Date Published: July 12, 2017
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Qian Ran, Junyi Yang, Wenjing Yang, Dongtao Wei, Jiang Qiu, Dong Zhang, Kewei Chen.
Dispositional optimism is an individual characteristic that plays an important role in human experience. Optimists are people who tend to hold positive expectations for their future. Previous studies have focused on the neural basis of optimism, such as task response neural activity and brain structure volume. However, the functional connectivity between brain regions of the dispositional optimists are poorly understood. Previous study suggested that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) are associated with individual differences in dispositional optimism, but it is unclear whether there are other brain regions that combine with the vmPFC to contribute to dispositional optimism. Thus, the present study used the resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) approach and set the vmPFC as the seed region to examine if differences in functional brain connectivity between the vmPFC and other brain regions would be associated with individual differences in dispositional optimism. The results found that dispositional optimism was significantly positively correlated with the strength of the RSFC between vmPFC and middle temporal gyrus (mTG) and negativly correlated with RSFC between vmPFC and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). These findings may be suggested that mTG and IFG which associated with emotion processes and emotion regulation also play an important role in the dispositional optimism.
Dispositional optimism is an important product of human evolution and an individual characteristic that plays a substantial role in human experience [1, 2]. Dispositional optimism can be described as the expectation of positive outcomes. For example, optimistic individuals are confident that they will attain their goals as their expectation [3–5]. Although extreme optimism can be harmful as it can promote an underestimation of risk and poor planning [6, 7], moderate optimism can motivate adaptive behavior in the present towards a future goal , and is beneficial to both physical and psychological wellbeing [8–10]. Optimists tend to have lower self-reported depressive symptoms , whereas pessimists report more negative expectations of the future [12–14]. Additionally, optimists were observed to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared with pessimists [11, 15], and to be associated with lower incidence rate of complications and better recovery after surgery. Furthermore, optimists are likely to benefit in the social domain . For instance, there is an association between expecting positive outcomes and having broader social networks .
This study used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the relationship between RSFC and dispositional optimism, as measured by the LOT-R. The results showed that individual dispositional optimism was significantly positively correlated with the strength of RSFC between the vmPFC and mTG, and significantly negatively correlated with the strength of RSFC between the vmPFC and bilateral IFG.
This study found that dispositional optimism was significantly positively correlated with the strength of the RSFC between vmPFC and mTG, and negatively correlated with RSFC between vmPFC and IFG. The increased RSFC between the vmPFC and mTG that was linked to a higher level of dispositional optimism might be due to connections between the emotion process and emotion regulation functions. The decreased RSFC between the vmPFC and IFG that was linked to a higher level of dispositional optimism might be due to connections between emotion regulation and self-referential processing.