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The regulation of negative emotions: Impact on brain activity
Date:3/18/2008

Philadelphia, PA, March 18, 2008 Emotions play an important role in the lives of humans, and influence our behavior, thoughts, decisions, and interactions. The ability to regulate emotions is essential to both mental and physical well-being. Conversely, difficulties with emotion regulation have been postulated as a core mechanism underlying mood and anxiety disorders, according to the authors of a new study published in Biological Psychiatry on March 15th. Thus, these researchers set out to further expand our understanding of the differential effects of emotion regulation strategies on the human brain.

Goldin and colleagues chose to compare two specific regulation strategies cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression in the context of negative emotions. Dr. Philippe R. Goldin describes these approaches: Reappraisal is a cognitive strategy that alters the meaning of a potentially upsetting situation [and has] been associated with decreased levels of negative emotion and increased well-being, whereas suppression is a behavioral strategy that involves inhibiting ongoing emotion-expressive behavior [and has] been associated with increased physiological responding and decreased well-being. This suggests that cognitive regulation, such as reappraisal, may be more effective because it impacts the emotion-generative process earlier than a behavioral strategy, like suppression.

To examine the differences in these processes, the researchers recruited healthy women volunteers who viewed short video clips of either neutral or negative (disgusting) stimuli and who were instructed to implement the differing emotion regulation strategies. While doing so, the women provided emotion experience ratings and their facial expressions were videotaped. In addition, their brain activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging, which allowed the authors to compare which areas of the brain were activated under each condition.

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Contact: Jayne Dawkins
ja.dawkins@elsevier.com
215-239-3674
Elsevier
Source:Eurekalert

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