The neural basis of attaining conscious awareness of sad mood

Ryan Smith, B. Blair Braden, Kewei Chen, Francisco A. Ponce, Richard D. Lane, Leslie C. Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The neural processes associated with becoming aware of sad mood are not fully understood. We examined the dynamic process of becoming aware of sad mood and recovery from sad mood. Sixteen healthy subjects underwent fMRI while participating in a sadness induction task designed to allow for variable mood induction times. Individualized regressors linearly modeled the time periods during the attainment of self-reported sad and baseline “neutral” mood states, and the validity of the linearity assumption was further tested using independent component analysis. During sadness induction the dorsomedial and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices, and anterior insula exhibited a linear increase in the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal until subjects became aware of a sad mood and then a subsequent linear decrease as subjects transitioned from sadness back to the non-sadness baseline condition. These findings extend understanding of the neural basis of conscious emotional experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-587
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 26 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Awareness
  • Functional MRI
  • Insula
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Sad mood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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