Neural correlates of reappraisal considering working memory capacity and cognitive flexibility
Cognitive reappraisal of emotion is strongly related to long-term mental health. Therefore, the exploration of underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms has become an essential focus of research. Considering that reappraisal and executive functions rely on a similar brain network, the question arises whether behavioral differences in executive functions modulate neural activity during reappraisal. Using functional neuroimaging, the present study aimed to analyze the role of working memory capacity (WMC) and cognitive flexibility in brain activity during down-regulation of negative emotions by reappraisal in N = 20 healthy participants. Results suggests that WMC and cognitive flexibility were negatively correlated with prefrontal activity during reappraisal condition. Here, results also revealed a negative correlation between cognitive flexibility and amygdala activation. These findings provide first hints that (1) individuals with lower WMC and lower cognitive flexibility might need more higher-order cognitive neural resources in order to down-regulate negative emotions and (2) cognitive flexibility relates to emotional reactivity during reappraisal.
KeywordsCognitive reappraisal Working memory capacity Cognitive flexibility Prefrontal cortex Emotion regulation
This research was conducted at the University of Heidelberg, Institute of Psychology, Heidelberg, Germany and was supported by the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. This research is based on an unpublished master's thesis by Jenny Zaehringer. The authors would like to thank Katrin Schulze, Moritz Berger, Adelheid Fuxa and Moritz Riese for their friendly support during the data collection and analyses.
Compliance with ethical standards
The manuscript meets the guidelines for ethical conduct and report of research mentioned in the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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