A Link Between Childhood Adversity and Trait Anger Reflects Relative Activity of the Amygdala and Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Trait anger, or the dispositional tendency to experience a wide range of situations as annoying or frustrating, is associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes. The experience of adversity during childhood is one risk factor for the later emergence of high trait anger. This association has been hypothesized to reflect alterations in neural circuits supporting bottom-up threat processing and top-down executive control.


Here, using functional magnetic resonance imaging and self-report questionnaire data from 220 volunteers, we examined how individual differences in top-down prefrontal executive control and bottom-up amygdala threat activity modulate the association between childhood adversity and trait anger during young adulthood.


We report that the association between childhood adversity and trait anger is attenuated specifically in young adults who have both relatively low threat-related amygdala activity and high executive control-related dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity.


These brain activity patterns suggest that simultaneous consideration of their underlying cognitive processes-namely, threat processing and executive control-may be useful in strategies designed to mitigate the negative mental health consequences of childhood adversity.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kim, MJ; Scult, MA; Knodt, AR; Radtke, SR; d'Arbeloff, TC; Brigidi, BD; Hariri, AR

Published Date

  • July 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 3 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 644 - 649

PubMed ID

  • 29680475

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6062443

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2451-9030

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2451-9022

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.bpsc.2018.03.006


  • eng