Yanagisawa, K.（柳澤邦昭）, Abe, N., Kashima. E. S., & Nomura, M.（野村理朗） (2016). Self-esteem modulates amygdala-ventrolateral prefrontal cortex connectivity in response to mortality threats. 死の脅威への反応に際する扁桃体-腹外側前頭前皮質の結合性を調節するセルフエスティーム Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. doi: 10.1037/xge0000121
Reminders of death often elicit defensive responses in individuals, especially among those with low self-esteem. Although empirical evidence indicates that self-esteem serves as a buffer against mortality threats, the precise neural mechanism underlying this effect remains unknown. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to test the hypothesis that self-esteem modulates neural responses to death-related stimuli, especially functional connectivity within the limbic-frontal circuitry, thereby affecting subsequent defensive reactions. As predicted, individuals with high self-esteem subjected to a mortality threat exhibited increased amygdala-ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) connectivity during the processing of death-related stimuli compared with individuals who have low self-esteem. Further analysis revealed that stronger functional connectivity between the amygdala and the VLPFC predicted a subsequent decline in responding defensively to those who threaten one’s beliefs. These results suggest that the amygdala-VLPFC interaction, which is modulated by self-esteem, can reduce the defensiveness caused by death-related stimuli, thereby providing a neural explanation for why individuals with high self-esteem exhibit less defensive reactions to mortality threats.