The Relationship Between Self-Reported Emotion Regulation and the Neurophysiology of Emotion Regulation

2017-11-01T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Kerry Lynn Kinney
Background: Reappraisal and suppression are forms of adaptive and maladaptive emotion regulation (ER) strategies, respectively. Individuals with anxiety or depression report less habitual use of reappraisal and/or more reliance on suppression compared to healthy individuals. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research suggests aberrant neurofunctional activity may underlie emotion dysregulation in anxiety and depression. However, there has been little integration between self-report and brain measures of ER. Moreover, fMRI has poor temporal resolution, making it suboptimal to characterize the time course of ER. Event-related potentials, measured via electroencephalogram, have excellent temporal resolution. Limited research suggests the late positive potential (LPP), a measure of emotional reactivity, to emotional stimuli is attenuated in depression and amplified in anxiety. Accordingly, ‘pure’ anxiety (primary social anxiety disorder, SAD, or generalized anxiety disorder, GAD) was contrasted with a mixed anxiety/depression group (primary or comorbid major depressive disorder, MDD) and healthy controls (HC). Methods: 35 pure anxiety, 51 anxiety/depression, and 28 HC individuals completed a self-report measure of reappraise (ERQ-R) and suppression (ERQ-S) and an emotion regulation task. LPP was collected throughout the emotion regulation task. The task included instructions to use a cognitive strategy to reduce negative affect elicited by negative images (‘reappraise’) or to view negative images and experience naturally their emotions (‘maintain’). An ANCOVA was performed to examine the influence of ERQ-R and ERQ-S on LPP during reappraise and maintain. Results: LPP amplitude decreased during reappraise (relative to maintain) across all participants. Also, across all participants, LPP effects for reappraise were not accounted for by ERQ-R. However, across all participants, LPP amplitude during maintain was correlated with ERQ-S. Conclusions: Individuals with anxiety or depression report less habitual use of reappraisal, but not suppression, than HC. LPP results suggest that when instructed, individuals with anxiety or depression are able to down-regulate emotional reactivity to negative stimuli. Additionally, frequency of suppression use positively relates to an individual’s sustained emotional reactivity to negative stimuli. This investigation refines our understanding of emotion dysregulation in internalizing disorders and has potential applicability in clinical settings.