March 1, 2021

A connectome-wide functional signature of trait anger

Past research on the brain correlates of trait anger has been limited by small sample sizes, a focus on relatively few regions-of-interest, and poor test-retest reliability of functional brain measures. To address these limitations, we conducted a data-driven analysis of variability in connectome-wide general functional connectivity, which has good test-retest reliability, in a sample of 1,048 young adult volunteers. Multi-dimensional matrix regression analysis showed that individual differences in self-reported trait anger maps onto variability in the whole-brain functional connectivity patterns of three brain regions that serve action-related functions: bilateral supplementary motor area (SMA) and the right lateral frontal pole. Follow-up seed-based analysis confirmed that high trait anger is associated with hyperconnectivity between these three regions and the somatomotor network as well as hyperconnectivity and hypoconnectivity between SMA and default mode and visual networks, respectively. Supplementary targeted analyses based on theoretical and empirical grounds further revealed that high trait anger is associated with hyperconnectivity between the amygdala and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and striatum. These patterns suggest that the dispositional tendency to more easily experience frustration and anger is associated with variability in the functional connectivity of brain networks supporting somatomotor, affective, self-referential, and visual information processes. The emergence of action-related brain regions from our connectome-wide analysis is consistent with trait anger as reflecting a greater propensity to provoked action.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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