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Don't make that face at me!
Date:3/2/2010

Philadelphia, PA, 2 March 2010 - Think back to your last fight with someone you love. How did you feel afterwards? How did you behave? Conflict with a loved one often leaves a person feeling terrible and then behaving badly. So much so that these scenarios have become soap opera clichs. After an argument, one partner may brood, slam the door, and then drive to a local bar to drown their sorrows in alcohol. These dramas rarely have happy endings. Given these stereotypes, how do people control their emotional reactions and prevent emotional storms and their attendant use of intoxicating substances?

A new study published in Biological Psychiatry, by Elsevier, suggests that the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) is a brain region that may help people to control their emotional reactions to negative facial expressions from their romantic partners.

Christine Hooker and her colleagues recruited healthy, adult participants in committed relationships. The research subjects viewed positive, negative, and neutral facial expressions of their partners during a brain scan. In an online daily diary, participants reported conflict occurrence, level of negative mood, rumination, and substance use.

They found that LPFC activity in response to the laboratory-based affective challenge predicted self-regulation after an interpersonal conflict in daily life. When there was no interpersonal conflict, LPFC activity was not related to mood or behavior the next day. However, when an interpersonal conflict did occur, LPFC activity predicted mood and behavior the next day, such that lower activity was related to higher levels of negative mood, rumination, and substance use.

The study findings suggest that low LPFC function may be a risk-factor for mood and behavioral problems after a stressful interpersonal event.

The constructive management of negative emotional states that emerge inevitably within romantic relationships can be a critical facet of coping w
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Contact: Maureen Hunter
m.hunter@elsevier.com
215-239-3674
Elsevier
Source:Eurekalert

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