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Information-based TMS to mid-lateral prefrontal cortex disrupts action goals during emotional processing

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Nat Commun. 2024 May 20;15(1):4294. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-48015-8.


The ability to respond to emotional events in a context-sensitive and goal-oriented manner is essential for adaptive functioning. In models of behavioral and emotion regulation, the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) is postulated to maintain goal-relevant representations that promote cognitive control, an idea rarely tested with causal inference. Here, we altered mid-LPFC function in healthy individuals using a putatively inhibitory brain stimulation protocol (continuous theta burst; cTBS), followed by fMRI scanning. Participants performed the Affective Go/No-Go task, which requires goal-oriented action during affective processing. We targeted mid-LPFC (vs. a Control site) based on the individualized location of action-goal representations observed during the task. cTBS to mid-LPFC reduced action-goal representations in mid-LPFC and impaired goal-oriented action, particularly during processing of negative emotional cues. During negative-cue processing, cTBS to mid-LPFC reduced functional coupling between mid-LPFC and nodes of the default mode network, including frontopolar cortex-a region thought to modulate LPFC control signals according to internal states. Collectively, these results indicate that mid-LPFC goal-relevant representations play a causal role in governing context-sensitive cognitive control during emotional processing.

PMID:38769359 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-024-48015-8

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