London: The orbitofrontal cortex, an area in the lower frontal lobe, is smaller in the people who have problems with regulating emotions, a study says.
People vary in how often they become happy, sad or angry, and also in how strongly these emotions are expressed.
However, there are people who find it difficult to regulate their emotions, which has serious impact on their work, family and social life.
“The results support the idea that there is a continuum in our ability to regulate emotions, and if you are at the extreme end of the spectrum, you are likely to have problems with functioning in society, leading to a psychiatric diagnosis”, said first author of the study Predrag Petrovic from Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
In the study, 87 healthy subjects were given a clinical questionnaire and asked to rate to what degree they have problems with regulating emotions in their everyday lives.
The brains of the subjects were then scanned with MRI. The scientists found that the orbitofrontal cortex exhibited smaller volumes in the healthy individuals that reported that they have problems with regulating emotions.
The greater the problems, the smaller the volume detected.
The same area is known to have a smaller volume in patients with borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
Similar results were also seen in other areas of the brain that are known for being important in emotional regulation.
“According to this idea, such disorders should not be seen as categorical, that you either have the condition or not. It should rather be seen as an extreme variant in the normal variability of the population,” Petrovic said.