Social psychological studies have shown that an experience of threat such as an encounter with death-related stimuli and social exclusion results in tuning toward positive emotional information. Neuroimaging studies have also begun to uncover the neural basis of threat coping, and in this literature, the activity of the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (rVLPFC) has been suggested to play a key role in detection and regulation of threats. Using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), we examined the activity of rVLPFC while participants were subliminally primed with the concept of "death" or the control concept "pain". We found greater rVLPFC activities relative to the prior baseline in the death prime condition, and furthermore, these activities negatively correlated with the evaluation of the positive (but not negative) essay. These data provide initial evidence to suggest that lesser neuronal regulation of threat, when it is first encountered, may lead to subsequent regulation by affect tuning.