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NYU, Rutgers study shows how using mental strategies can alter the brain's reward circuitry
Date:6/29/2008

to each trial, participants were also given a written cue that instructed them to either respond to the stimulus ("think of the meaning of the blue square, such as a potential reward") or regulate their emotional response to the stimulus ("think of something blue in nature that calms you down, such as the ocean").

Skin conductance responses (SCRs) of the participants were taken at the beginning of each conditioned stimulus. These served as a behavioral measure of physiological reaction potentially related to reward anticipation.

The results showed that the participants' emotion regulation strategies could influence physiological and neural responses relevant to the expectation of reward. Specifically, results from the SCRs revealed that the subjects' emotion regulation strategies decreased arousal that was linked to the anticipation of a potential reward.

"Our findings demonstrated that emotion regulation strategies can successfully curb physiological and neural responses associated with the expectation of reward," said Delgado. "This is a first step to understanding how our thoughts may effectively control positive emotions and eventual urges that may arise, such as drug cravings."


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Contact: James Devitt
james.devitt@nyu.edu
212-998-6808
New York University
Source:Eurekalert

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