Using executive control training to suppress amygdala reactivity to aversive information

N. Cohen, D. S. Margulies, S. Ashkenazi, A. Schaefer, M. Taubert, A. Henik, A. Villringer, H. Okon-Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to regulate emotions is essential for adaptive behavior. This ability is suggested to be mediated by the connectivity between prefrontal brain regions and the amygdala. Yet, it is still unknown whether the ability to regulate emotions can be trained by using a non-emotional procedure, such as the recruitment of executive control (EC).Participants who were trained using a high-frequent executive control (EC) task (80% incongruent trials) showed reduced amygdala reactivity and behavioral interference of aversive pictures. These effects were observed only following multiple-session training and not following one training session. In addition, they were not observed for participants exposed to low-frequent EC training (20% incongruent trials). Resting-state functional connectivity analysis revealed a marginally significant interaction between training group and change in the connectivity between the amygdala and the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Amygdala-IFG connectivity was significantly increased following the training only in the high-frequent EC training group. These findings are the first to show that non-emotional training can induce changes in amygdala reactivity to aversive information and alter amygdala-prefrontal connectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-1031
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interest with respect to their authorship or the publication of this article. Travel funding to carry out this research was provided to Noga Cohen by: The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) , International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) , and Minerva . This research was also supported by the Marie Curie Actions CIG grant 34206 and the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel Young Investigator Research Grant 145-14-15 awarded to Hadas Okon-Singer. Alexander Schaefer was supported by a fellowship within the Postdoc-Program of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). We want to thank Michael Ginzburg for programming the training program, Josefin Roebbig and Lina Schaare for their help with the German translation, Maria Wirth for assistance in running participants, and our MRI technician, Sylvie Neubert, for running the scans in an efficient and friendly manner. Thanks are also due to Karsten Müller, Jöran Lepsien, Toralf Mildner, and Arava Kallai for statistical and technical support. In addition, we thank Micah G. Edelson for helpful comments on previous versions of this manuscript. Appendix A

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Amygdala
  • Connectivity
  • Emotional interference
  • Executive control
  • FMRI
  • Inferior frontal gyrus
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Using executive control training to suppress amygdala reactivity to aversive information'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this