Prefrontal cortex activity triggered by affective faces exposure and its relationship with neuroticism

Ignacio Lucas, Ferran Balada, Eduardo Blanco, Anton Aluja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

5 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 Elsevier Ltd The emotional processing of affective faces is an essential element of social relationships. Individual differences in personality traits such as neuroticism can influence how we manage these interactions. The objective of this study was to analyze changes in prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity in response to visual exposure to affective faces, and to ascertain whether changes in PFC activity were related to scores in neuroticism, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and dependence facets. Fifty-two healthy undergraduate female students participated in the present study. Results showed significant differences depending on face valence in the left and right ventrolateral PFC. We found a reduction in oxygen consumption in reaction to neutral and happy faces, and a small increase in oxygenation in reaction to angry faces both in the left and the right PFC. There were significant positive correlations in the left ventrolateral PFC between oxygenation changes during exposure to neutral and happy faces and the neuroticism factor. Anxiety and depression facets showed positive significant correlations with oxygenation changes for all Time blocks. Notice that participants with high neuroticism scores did not show differences in ventrolateral PFC activity depending on face valence. We suggest that PFC would play a protective role in response to emotional stimuli. The reduced regulatory control of PFC over the amygdala could explain vulnerability to emotional disorders in subjects with high neuroticism.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107146
Pages (from-to)1-9
Issue number107146
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • Emotional faces
  • Functional near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Neuroticism
  • Prefrontal cortex


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