Frontolimbic function and cortisol reactivity in response to emotional stimuli
Frontolimbic structures involved in fear conditioning have also been associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis modulation, including amygdaloid, hippocampal, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex regions. Although HPA-axis function and endocrine changes have been investigated in the context of stress provocation, much research has not been conducted using functional neuroimaging in the study of the HPA axis and frontolimbic function in response to emotional stimuli. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the association of blood-oxygen-level dependent signal with salivary cortisol in response to an emotional visual scene paradigm was investigated, with prescan and postscan salivary cortisol analyzed as a covariate of interest during specific conditions. Cortisol reactivity to the paradigm was positively associated with amygdalar and hippocampal activity and negatively associated with ventromedial prefrontal cortex activity in conditions involving emotional imagery.