Smaller Volume in Left-Lateralized Brain Structures Correlates with Greater Experience of Negative Non-target Emotions in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Kuan Hua Chen, Alice Y. Hua, Sandy J. Lwi, Claudia M. Haase, Howard J. Rosen, Bruce L. Miller, Robert W. Levenson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Subjective emotional experience that is congruent with a given situation (i.e., target emotions) is critical for human survival (e.g., feeling disgusted in response to contaminated food motivates withdrawal behaviors). Neurodegenerative diseases including frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease affect brain regions critical for cognitive and emotional functioning, resulting in increased experience of emotions incongruent with the situation (i.e., non-target emotions, such as feeling happy when seeing someone grieving). We examined neuroanatomical correlates of subjective experience of non-target emotions in 147 patients with neurodegenerative diseases and 26 healthy individuals. Participants watched three films intended to elicit particular target emotions and rated their experience of negative and positive target and non-target emotions after watching each film. We found that smaller volume in left hemisphere regions (e.g., caudate, putamen, and dorsal anterior insula) was associated with greater experience of negative non-target emotions. Follow-up analyses confirmed that these effects were left-lateralized. No correlates emerged for positive non-target emotions. These findings suggest that volume loss in left-hemisphere regions produces a more diffuse, incongruent experience of non-target emotions. These findings provide a potential neuroanatomical basis for understanding how subjective emotional experience is constructed in the brain and how this can be disrupted in neurodegenerative disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-31
Number of pages17
JournalCerebral Cortex
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Keywords

  • affect
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • subjective feeling
  • voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Smaller Volume in Left-Lateralized Brain Structures Correlates with Greater Experience of Negative Non-target Emotions in Neurodegenerative Diseases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this