A balance between emotions and reasoning, a feature that the region “area 32” of anterior cingulate cortex of brain accomplishes, is required to navigate through life.
According to a new research on monkeys, equilibrium of emotions is maintained by this area by means of relaying information between emotional and cognitive brain regions. The research published in JNeurosci suggests that mood disorders such as depression or anxiety cause the emotional balance to go erratic. This leads to an ample amount of negative emotions as well as an inability to get out of rumination. Moreover, people suffering from depression have a hyperactive area 25. This region of the brain is involved in emotional expression. Communication between regions of emotion such as area 25, also called subgenual cortex, and cognitive regions such as dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is required for a healthy emotional regulation. But, the connection between these two areas is weak, therefore a middleman must be involved.
The researchers involved in the study used bidirectional neuron tracers for visualizing in rhesus monkeys, the connections between area 25, DLPFC and area 32, a potential middleman. The strongest inhibitory neurons reside in the deepest layer of area 32 to which the DLPFC connects. Area 32 positions as a powerful regulator of the activities of area 25 by connecting with every layer. In healthy brains, an emotional equilibrium is achieved as DLPFC signals are 32 to further balance the activities of area 25. But, when an individual is with depression, the DLPFC’s silence results in excessive activities of area 25 and an erratic emotional processing. The researchers also added that the balance between emotions and reasons in an individual is required to navigate through life and also is important for not only mental but physical health as well.