Neurobehavioral Mechanisms of Resilience Against Emotional Distress: An Integrative Brain-Personality-Symptom Approach Using Structural Equation Modeling.

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Clarifying individual differences that predict resilience or vulnerability to emotional distress is crucial for identifying etiological factors contributing to affective disturbances, and to promoting emotional well-being. Despite recent progress identifying specific brain regions and personality traits, it remains unclear whether there are common factors underlying the structural aspects of the brain and the personality traits that, in turn, protect against symptoms of emotional distress. In the present study, an integrative structural equation model was developed to examine the associations among (1) a latent construct of Control, representing the volumes of a system of prefrontal cortical (PFC) regions including middle, inferior, and orbital frontal cortices; (2) a latent construct of Resilience personality traits including cognitive reappraisal, positive affectivity, and optimism; and (3) Anxiety and Depression symptoms, in a sample of 85 healthy young adults. Results showed that the latent construct of PFC volumes positively predicted the latent construct of Resilience, which in turn negatively predicted Anxiety. Mediation analysis confirmed that greater latent PFC volume is indirectly associated with lower Anxiety symptoms through greater latent trait Resilience. The model did not show a significant mediation for Depression. These results support the idea that there are common volumetric and personality factors that help protect against symptoms of emotional distress. These findings provide strong evidence that such brain-personality-symptom approaches can provide novel insights with valuable implications for understanding the interaction of these factors in healthy and clinically diagnosed individuals.





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Moore, Matthew, Steven Culpepper, K Luan Phan, Timothy J Strauman, Florin Dolcos and Sanda Dolcos (2018). Neurobehavioral Mechanisms of Resilience Against Emotional Distress: An Integrative Brain-Personality-Symptom Approach Using Structural Equation Modeling. Personality neuroscience, 1. p. e8. 10.1017/pen.2018.11 Retrieved from

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Timothy J. Strauman

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Professor Strauman's research focuses on the psychological and neurobiological processes that enable self-regulation, conceptualized in terms of a cognitive/motivational perspective, as well as the relation between self-regulation and affect. Particular areas of emphasis include: (1) conceptualizing self-regulation in terms of brain/behavior motivational systems; (2) the role of self-regulatory cognitive processes in vulnerability to depression and other disorders; (3) the impact of treatments for depression, such as psychotherapy and medication, on self-regulatory function and dysfunction in depression; (4) how normative and non-normative socialization patterns influence the development of self-regulatory systems; (5) the contributory roles of self-regulation, affect, and psychopathology in determining immunologically-mediated susceptibility to illness; (6) development of novel multi-component treatments for depression targeting self-regulatory dysfunction; (7) utilization of brain imaging techniques to test hypotheses concerning self-regulation, including the nature and function of hypothetical regulatory systems and characterizing the breakdowns in self-regulation that lead to and accompany depression.

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