The team found that the stressful images seemed to spark activity around the hippocampus, which wasn’t entirely surprising considering previous research on stress. The hippocampus deals with emotion, but also motivation and memory. Thinking about stress, it makes sense that the brain would encode a stressful memory and its accompanying emotions for future reference.
But the neural connections didn’t stop there—they reached the dorsal lateral frontal cortex, which deals with regulating emotions. And most interestingly, the participants who had stronger connections between those two regions of the brain reported feeling less stressed in the study. The opposite was also true: Participants who reported more stress showed more activation between the two regions, indicating that more chemical signaling went into their emotional regulation.
These findings, the study authors say, could help explain previous research that has shown that people with mental health disorders tend to have trouble with emotional regulation in the frontal cortex.