Functional neuroimaging studies implicate limbic and paralimbic activity in emotional responses, but few studies have sought to understand neurochemical mechanisms which modulate these responses. We have used positron emission tomography to measure mu-opioid receptor binding, and cerebral blood flow in the same subjects, and demonstrated that the baseline binding potential and the regional cerebral blood flow in the left inferior temporal pole are functionally related. Higher baseline mu-opioid receptor binding potential was associated with lower regional cerebral blood flow in this region during presentation of emotionally salient stimuli. This is consistent with an inhibitory/anxiolytic role of the endogenous opioid system in limbic regions of the temporal lobe and basal forebrain.
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