Negative emotional stimuli activate a broad network of brain regions, including the
medial prefrontal (mPFC) and anterior cingulate (ACC) cortices. An early influential
view dichotomized these regions into dorsal-caudal cognitive and ventral-rostral affective
subdivisions. In this review, we examine a wealth of recent research on negative emotions
in animals and humans, using the example of fear or anxiety, and conclude that, contrary
to the traditional dichotomy, both subdivisions make key contributions to emotional
processing. Specifically, dorsal-caudal regions of the ACC and mPFC are involved in
appraisal and expression of negative emotion, whereas ventral-rostral portions of
the ACC and mPFC have a regulatory role with respect to limbic regions involved in
generating emotional responses. Moreover, this new framework is broadly consistent
with emerging data on other negative and positive emotions.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.