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Brains of Optimistic Older Adults Respond Less to Fearful Faces
Katherine J. Bangen, Ph.D.; Marianne Bergheim, M.D.; Allison R. Kaup, Ph.D.; Heline Mirzakhanian, Ph.D.; Christina E. Wierenga, Ph.D.; Dilip V. Jeste, M.D.; Lisa T. Eyler, Ph.D.
The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2013;:. doi:10.1176/appi.neuropsych.12090231
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From the Dept. of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA, and the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, La Jolla, CA.

Send correspondence to Katherine J. Bangen, Ph.D.; e-mail: kbangen@ucsd.edu

Copyright © 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association

Received September 27, 2012; Revised December 17, 2012; Accepted December 21, 2012.

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Abstract

The authors examined the neural correlates of emotion-processing and how they relate to individual differences in optimism among older adults. Brain response during processing of fearful faces was measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging in 16 older adults and was correlated with level of optimism. Greater optimism was associated with reduced activation in fusiform gyrus and frontal regions, which may reflect decreased salience of negative emotional information or better emotion regulation among optimistic individuals. Relationships persisted after taking into account cortical thickness, amygdala volume, and resting perfusion. Findings have potential implications for the promotion of successful aging.

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