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Prof. Karin Roelofs
Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
The ability to regulate our emotions largely depends on our capacities to control emotional actions. I will present a series of studies suggesting that down-regulation of amygdala activity by the anterior PFC is involved when people need to override their automatic action tendencies. I will show that the functioning of this neural circuitry is sensitive to individual differences in emotional states (anxiety and aggression) and associated steroid hormones (cortisol and testosterone, respectively). In addition, I will discuss recent direct manipulations of this neural circuitry by steroid hormone administration and brain stimulation (TMS). Our results suggest that the ability to control automatic emotional actions by this circuitry is central in explaining human emotional responses and may constitute an important factor in explaining anxious and aggressive symptomatology.