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Journal Article

Time course of emotion-related responding during distraction and reappraisal


Kanske,  Philipp
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Section for Experimental Psychopathology and Neuroimaging, Department of General Psychiatry, Center for Psychosocial Medicine, Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany;

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Schönfelder, S., Kanske, P., Heissler, J., & Wessa, M. (2014). Time course of emotion-related responding during distraction and reappraisal. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(9), 1310-1319. doi:10.1093/scan/nst116.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-FEA0-A
Theoretical accounts of emotion regulation (ER) discriminate various cognitive strategies to voluntarily modify emotional states. Amongst these, attentional deployment (i.e. distraction) and cognitive change (i.e. reappraisal), have been shown to successfully down-regulate emotions. Neuroimaging studies found that both strategies differentially engage neural structures associated with selective attention, working memory and cognitive control. The aim of this study was to further delineate similarities and differences between the ER strategies reappraisal and distraction by investigating their temporal brain dynamics using event-related potentials (ERPs) and their patterns of facial expressive behavior. Twenty-one participants completed an ER experiment in which they had to either passively view positive, neutral and negative pictures, reinterpret them to down-regulate affective responses (reappraisal), or solve a concurrently presented mathematical equation (distraction). Results demonstrate the efficacy of both strategies in the subjective control of emotion, accompanied by reductions of facial expressive activity (Corrugator supercilii and Zygomaticus major). ERP results indicated that distraction, compared with reappraisal, yielded a stronger and earlier attenuation of the late positive potential (LPP) magnitude for negative pictures. For positive pictures, only distraction but not reappraisal had significant effect on LPP attenuation. The results support the process model of ER, separating subtypes of cognitive strategies based on their specific time course.