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50. Persistence of amygdala activity following negative stimuli predicts day-to-day affective experience
Emotion fluctuates over time. Previous research demonstrates that psychological well-being is related to the temporal dynamics of emotion both in the brain and in daily life. However, few studies have explicitly linked neural dynamics in response to affective stimuli to real-world emotional experience. To probe this relationship, we examined daily diary reports of stress and affect across 8 days and fMRI data from an affective image-viewing task in 57 participants from the Midlife in the U.S. study. In the fMRI task, subjects viewed positive, neutral, and negative images followed a neutral face 3 seconds later. We used representational similarity analysis to calculate individual differences in the persistence of neural representations of the affective stimuli over time. Specifically, we hypothesized that greater similarity in amygdala representations between the negative stimuli and the subsequent neutral face would be associated with greater negative affect in the daily diaries collected. We indeed found that amygdala persistence predicted greater negative affect (b= -0.139, p = 0.015), lower positive affect (b= 0.687, p = 0.003) and a tighter pairing of stress and negative affect (b= -0.102, p = 0.019). These results provide evidence for a promising connection between affective dynamics across multiple time scales and modalities.