During each run, an instruction would briefly appear on the monitor prior to each video, telling the volunteers whether to rethink the meaning of what they were seeing; to suppress their facial expression but not their feelings; or to react naturally.
The fMRI images revealed that regardless of the strategy employed, two areas of the brain that are associated with emotional reactivity-the amygdala and the insula-lit up. But the degree of neural activity in each of the two regions, and the timing of it, were markedly different depending on whether cognitive reappraisal or expressive suppression was used.
By the end of each 15-second video, cognitive reappraisal, the reinterpretation strategy, led to reduced negative emotion as measured by subjects' facial expressions, by fMRI images of neural excitation and by the participants' self-report of how they felt. The technique affected the participants' feelings relatively quickly.
Cognitive reappraisal "comes on early and then you kind of ride the wave of having implemented that strategy," Goldin said.
That was not the case with facial expression suppression.
"Keeping your face still while watching these disgusting film clips actually resulted in an increase in neural activity in the amygdala and insula," Goldin said. "During the 15-second film clip, the emotional reactivity is increasing and billowing while you're watching the film clip, and the time when it becomes hardest to implement the 'keep your face still' instruction, the suppression, is at the end of each clip when the emotional intensity is really increasing."
In short, only reappraisal was effective at decreasing subjects' physiological responses, and suppression actually led to increased stress levels.
"These two forms of regulation work quite differently," Gross said. "Early forms of regulation, such as reappraisal, effectively shut down th
|Contact: Louis Bergeron|