Negative mood linked to amygdala activity


How the amygdala responds to viewing negative and subsequent neutral stimuli may impact an individual’s daily mood, according to a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

For the longitudinal study, participants completed a psychological wellbeing assessment and eight daily telephone interviews to assess their mood. They also came into the lab for an fMRI task in which they viewed negative, positive, and neutral images with a picture of a neutral facial expression in between each image.

The amygdala evaluates the environment to find potential threats. If a threat does appear, the amygdala can stay active and respond to new stimuli like they are threatening too. This is helpful when an individual is in a dangerous situation, but less so when experiencing minor daily stressors.

In the current study, when the amygdala activated in a similar pattern as the participants viewed negative images and the neutral faces that followed, this persistent activity predicted increases in negative daily mood and decreases in positive daily mood. In turn, participants who experienced increased positive mood displayed greater psychological wellbeing.

These results suggest amygdala activity influences how a person feels day-to-day, which can impact overall psychological wellbeing, the researchers said.