Intrinsic functional connectivity of motor and heteromodal association cortex predicts individual differences in regulatory focus.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


Regulatory focus theory (RFT) describes two cognitive-motivational systems for goal pursuit-the promotion and prevention systems-important for self-regulation and previously implicated in vulnerability to psychopathology. According to RFT, the promotion system is engaged in attaining ideal goals (e.g. hopes and dreams), whereas the prevention system is associated with accomplishing ought goals (e.g. duties and obligations). Prior task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have mostly explored the mapping of these two systems onto the activity of a priori brain regions supporting motivation and executive control in both healthy and depressed adults. However, complex behavioral processes such as those guided by individual differences in regulatory focus are likely supported by widely distributed patterns of intrinsic functional connectivity. We used data-driven connectome-based predictive modeling to identify patterns of distributed whole-brain intrinsic network connectivity associated with individual differences in promotion and prevention system orientation in 1,307 young university volunteers. Our analyses produced a network model predictive of prevention but not promotion orientation, specifically the subjective experience of successful goal pursuit using prevention strategies. The predictive model of prevention success was highlighted by decreased intrinsic functional connectivity of both heteromodal association cortices in the parietal and limbic networks and the primary motor cortex. We discuss these findings in the context of strategic inaction, which drives individuals with a strong dispositional prevention orientation to inhibit their behavioral tendencies in order to shield the self from potential losses, thus maintaining the safety of the status quo but also leading to trade-offs in goal pursuit success.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Kim, Nayoung, M Justin Kim, Timothy J Strauman and Ahmad R Hariri (2024). Intrinsic functional connectivity of motor and heteromodal association cortex predicts individual differences in regulatory focus. PNAS nexus, 3(5). p. pgae167. 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgae167 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Timothy J. Strauman

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

FOR POTENTIAL STUDENTS (fall 2024 class): 

Dr. Timothy Strauman and Dr. Ann Brewster will be seeking to admit a student for Fall 2024 who will be an important member of their collaborative projects. Dr. Brewster is an intervention scientist and a faculty member in Duke’s Social Science Research Institute. The collaborative projects focus on creating, testing, and implementing school-based therapeutic and preventive interventions for adolescents at risk for negative academic and mental health outcomes. We are partnering with the Durham Public Schools as well as with other local school districts, and Dr. Brewster has extensive experience and expertise in developing the partnerships, working with community members, and the intervention process itself. We are especially interested in applicants with experience in community-based interventions, with interests in adolescence, and with knowledge and experience working with both behavioral and neuroimaging data.

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.

Ahmad Hariri

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Integrating psychology, neuroimaging, pharmacology and molecular genetics in the search for biological pathways mediating individual differences in behavior and related risk for psychopathology.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.