Jane Dywan, Karen J Mathewson, Becky L Choma, Brianna Rosenfeld, and Sidney J Segalowitz (2008)
Autonomic and electrophysiological correlates of emotional intensity in older and younger adults
Anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is involved in the modulation of autonomic activity, emotional responsivity, and the monitoring of goal-directed behavior. However, these functions are rarely studied together to determine how they relate or whether their pattern of relation changes with age. We recorded respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), an index of autonomic activity, error-related event related potentials (ERN/Pe), generated in ACC, and the self-reported intensity of 5 basic emotions in older and younger adults. Emotional intensity did not differ with age. The ERN/Pe and RSA were reduced with age and related specifically to sadness intensity for both groups. When examined together, RSA accounted for the relation between ERN/Pe and sadness. This is consistent with a model of medial prefrontal function in which autonomic processes mediate the relation between cognitive control and affective regulation, a pattern that also did not differ with age.