Age and emotional brain function

Proposal details

Title: Age and emotional brain function
Research Area(s): Emotion and Self Regulation
Background: Our ARC Discovery (2004-8) project is focused on the continuum of orienting and defensive responses. The theoretical model is that emotional significance acts as a weighting factor in determining our responses to salient stimuli. It is proposed that 1. these responses will vary with age and gender and 2. that individual variation in these responses may explain the vulnerabality to emotion-related disorders (psychosis, PTSD, ADHD), which show marked differences in incidence across males and females. In this component of the project, we examine the contribution of age to responses to fear stimuli, assessed using brain function (ERP, fMRI) and simultaneous autonomic measures.
Aims: Increasing age will be associated with increased frontal brain activity (particularly for later ERPs), and reduced limbic activity (reflected in earlier ERPs). These differences will be most pronounced for stimuli which elicit an SCR.
Method: The task will be the facial emotion perception task (for fear vs neutral and happy face stimuli).