Amygdala and prefrontal cortex activity varies with individual differences in the emotional response to psychosocial stress.

Stress elicits a variety of psychophysiological responses that show large interindividual variability. Determining the neural mechanisms that mediate individual differences in the emotional response to stress would provide new insight that would have important implications for understanding stress-related disorders. Therefore, the present study examined individual differences in the relationship between brain activity and the emotional response to stress. In the largest stress study to date, 239 participants completed the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST) while heart rate, skin conductance response (SCR), cortisol, self-reported stress, and blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional MRI (fMRI) signal responses were measured. The relationship between differential responses (heart rate, SCR, cortisol, and self-reported stress) and differential BOLD fMRI data was analyzed. Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), dorsomedial PFC, ventromedial PFC, and amygdala activity varied with the behavioral response (i.e., SCR and self-reported stress). These results suggest the PFC and amygdala support processes that are important for the expression and regulation of the emotional response to stress, and that stress-related PFC and amygdala activity underlie interindividual variability in peripheral physiologic measures of the stress response. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)