Negative urgency mediates the relationship between amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex activation to negative emotional stimuli and general risk-taking

Melissa A. Cyders, Mario Dzemidzic, William J. Eiler, Ayca Coskunpinar, Kenny A. Karyadi, David A. Kareken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


The tendency toward impulsive behavior under emotional duress (negative and positive urgency) predicts a wide range of maladaptive risk-taking and behavioral disorders. However, it remains unclear how urgency relates to limbic system activity as induced from emotional provocation. This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the relationship between brain responses to visual emotional stimuli and urgency traits. Twenty-seven social drinkers (mean age=25.2, 14 males) viewed negative (Neg), neutral (Neu), and positive (Pos) images during 6 fMRI scans. Brain activation was extracted from a priori limbic regions previously identified in studies of emotional provocation. The right posterior orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and left amygdala were activated in the [Neg>Neu] contrast, whereas the left posterior OFC was activated in the [Pos>Neu] contrast. Negative urgency was related to the right lateral OFC (r=0.43, P=0.03) and the left amygdala (r=0.39, P=0.04) [Neg>Neu] activation. Negative urgency also mediated the relationship between [Neg>Neu] activation and general risk-taking (regression weights=3.42 for right OFC and 2.75 for the left amygdala). Emotional cue-induced activation in right lateral OFC and left amygdala might relate to emotion-based risktaking through negative urgency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4094-4102
Number of pages9
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015



  • Emotion
  • Externalizing
  • FMRI imaging
  • Impulsivity
  • Risky behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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