The role of medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) in maintaining emotional information within working memory (WM) remains insufficiently investigated - with some studies suggesting this process activates MPFC and others suggesting its activity is suppressed. To reconcile these different results, we asked 26 healthy participants to complete a WM task involving the maintenance of emotional content (EWM), visual content (VWM), or no content ("rest") after exposure to emotion-provoking images. We also assessed individual differences in emotional awareness (EA). We observed that dorsal MPFC was more active during EWM than VWM; further, relative to the rest condition, both of these WM conditions involved suppression of ventral MPFC. We also observed that the dorsal anterior cingulate subregion of dorsal MPFC was positively associated with EA. We discuss how these results may be able to reconcile the findings of previous EWM studies, and extend understanding of the relationship between MPFC, EA, and WM.
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