Advanced search
Add to list

Common and distinct behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms in experiential and cognitive emotion regulation

(2021)
Author
Promoter
(UGent) and (UGent)
Organization
Abstract
Emotion regulation refers to the shaping of one’s emotions when they arise, and how it influences one's experience or expression of these emotions (Gross, 1998). This Ph.D. research project focuses on validating the effectiveness of induced bottom-up experiential emotion regulation in comparison to top-down cognitive emotion regulation using behavioral (sleep), physiological, and neuroimaging (fMRI) measurements. The Ph.D. includes four inter-correlated studies. The first sleep study (Chapter II) addressed the effects of experiential emotion regulation versus cognitive reappraisal on the emotional experience and follow-up sleep physiology after stress. The results showed that experiential emotion regulation did not differ from both the cognitive reappraisal condition and the control condition regarding the impact of pre-sleep negative affect and follow-up sleep physiology. Moreover, the physiological study (Chapter III) investigated the impact of single versus repeated instances of experiential emotion regulation and cognitive reappraisal on subjective emotional experience and objective physiological response. In line with our expectations, relative to the control ‘watch’ condition, one instance of experiential emotion regulation was associated with higher subjective negative emotional experience, whereas cognitive reappraisal was associated with lower subjective negative emotional experience and higher positive facial expressivity. Compared to the control ‘watch’ condition, repeating the same emotion regulation strategy resulted in a steeper relative decrease of negative emotional experience for experiential emotion regulation than cognitive appraisal, suggesting that it may become progressively effective with repeated processing. The third fMRI study (Chapter IV) examined the differential neural networks underlying experiential emotion regulation and cognitive defusion. Experiential emotion regulation recruited brain areas such as the angular gyrus, the anterior cingulate cortex, the inferior prefrontal gyrus, and the postcentral gyrus, which are known to be involved in multisensory information integration, emotion processing, and awareness. Interestingly, a greater interaction between the anterior insular cortex and left amygdala was observed during experiential emotion regulation, relative to the watch negative condition, while participants felt less negative. Cognitive defusion, on the other hand, decreased activation in the subcortical areas, including the amygdala, the hippocampus, the brainstem, and the thalamus. The direct comparison between experiential emotion regulation and cognitive defusion demonstrated greater activation in the left angular gyrus. The primary finding of this study revealed the neural mechanism of single-instance experiential emotion regulation compared to cognitive defusion and laid the foundation for the following study. The fourth fMRI study (Chapter V) further examined the behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the impact of single versus repeated instances of experiential and cognitive emotion regulation. On the behavioral level, a single instance of experiential emotion regulation initially increased negative emotional experience, whereas cognitive reappraisal immediately decreased it. Repeated experiential emotion regulation resulted in a larger decrease in negative emotional experience compared to repeated cognitive reappraisal. On the physiological level, single-instance experiential emotion regulation, relative to single-instance cognitive reappraisal, resulted in slower respiratory activity, while cognitive reappraisal did not affect physiology. Neither repeated cognitive reappraisal, nor repeated experiential emotion regulation further attenuated the physiological responses. On the neural level, a single instance of experiential emotion regulation resulted in deactivation of the precentral gyrus, while a single instance of cognitive reappraisal triggered activation of the emotion regulation network in the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus. Repeated experiential emotion regulation resulted in additional neural activity, namely the activation of the anterior insular cortex – which is central to interoceptive awareness – while repeated cognitive reappraisal activated the same emotion regulation network as with single-instance cognitive reappraisal. Moreover, experiential emotion regulation activated brain areas involved in affective processing and bodily awareness to a greater degree than cognitive reappraisal, whereas cognitive reappraisal caused more activation in a brain network involved in cognitive control, attentional processes, and language processing than experiential emotion regulation. Altogether, these four empirical studies strived to elucidate the working mechanisms underpinning experiential emotion regulation, as a complementary emotion regulation strategy to cognitive emotion regulation. Based on the research findings, we observed that experiential emotion regulation does not act immediately but may require repeated processing of emotions to yield in-depth effects and become progressively effective. With regards to repeated processing, experiential emotion regulation resulted in 1) a steeper relative decrease of negative emotional experience; 2) an enhanced activation of the anterior insular cortex – a central area in affective and interoceptive awareness. Experiential emotion regulation also appeared to slow down respiratory activity, indicating a dampening effect on the autonomic system. In summary, this Ph.D. dissertation revealed common and distinct behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms in experiential and cognitive emotion regulation. Furthermore, this research reflects a first, in-depth, experimental validation of a crucial approach within experiential psychotherapy operationalized by 'experiential emotion regulation’, providing new and innovative insights towards our understanding of the processes of emotion regulation in experiential, emotion focused, and client-centered psychotherapeutic approaches.
Keywords
Emotion regulation, experiential, reappraisal, negative affect, physiology, neuroimaging

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Wang, Yulin. Common and Distinct Behavioral and Neurophysiological Mechanisms in Experiential and Cognitive Emotion Regulation. Free University of Brussels. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences ; Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, 2021.
APA
Wang, Y. (2021). Common and distinct behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms in experiential and cognitive emotion regulation. Free University of Brussels. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences ; Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Brussels, Belgium ; Ghent, Belgium.
Chicago author-date
Wang, Yulin. 2021. “Common and Distinct Behavioral and Neurophysiological Mechanisms in Experiential and Cognitive Emotion Regulation.” Brussels, Belgium ; Ghent, Belgium: Free University of Brussels. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences ; Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Wang, Yulin. 2021. “Common and Distinct Behavioral and Neurophysiological Mechanisms in Experiential and Cognitive Emotion Regulation.” Brussels, Belgium ; Ghent, Belgium: Free University of Brussels. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences ; Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences.
Vancouver
1.
Wang Y. Common and distinct behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms in experiential and cognitive emotion regulation. [Brussels, Belgium ; Ghent, Belgium]: Free University of Brussels. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences ; Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences; 2021.
IEEE
[1]
Y. Wang, “Common and distinct behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms in experiential and cognitive emotion regulation,” Free University of Brussels. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences ; Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Brussels, Belgium ; Ghent, Belgium, 2021.
@phdthesis{8718801,
  abstract     = {{Emotion regulation refers to the shaping of one’s emotions when they arise, and how it influences one's experience or expression of these emotions (Gross, 1998). This Ph.D. research project focuses on validating the effectiveness of induced bottom-up experiential emotion regulation in comparison to top-down cognitive emotion regulation using behavioral (sleep), physiological, and neuroimaging (fMRI) measurements. The Ph.D. includes four inter-correlated studies. The first sleep study (Chapter II) addressed the effects of experiential emotion regulation versus cognitive reappraisal on the emotional experience and follow-up sleep physiology after stress. The results showed that experiential emotion regulation did not differ from both the cognitive reappraisal condition and the control condition regarding the impact of pre-sleep negative affect and follow-up sleep physiology. Moreover, the physiological study (Chapter III) investigated the impact of single versus repeated instances of experiential emotion regulation and cognitive reappraisal on subjective emotional experience and objective physiological response. In line with our expectations, relative to the control ‘watch’ condition, one instance of experiential emotion regulation was associated with higher subjective negative emotional experience, whereas cognitive reappraisal was associated with lower subjective negative emotional experience and higher positive facial expressivity. Compared to the control ‘watch’ condition, repeating the same emotion regulation strategy resulted in a steeper relative decrease of negative emotional experience for experiential emotion regulation than cognitive appraisal, suggesting that it may become progressively effective with repeated processing. The third fMRI study (Chapter IV) examined the differential neural networks underlying experiential emotion regulation and cognitive defusion. Experiential emotion regulation recruited brain areas such as the angular gyrus, the anterior cingulate cortex, the inferior prefrontal gyrus, and the postcentral gyrus, which are known to be involved in multisensory information integration, emotion processing, and awareness. Interestingly, a greater interaction between the anterior insular cortex and left amygdala was observed during experiential emotion regulation, relative to the watch negative condition, while participants felt less negative. Cognitive defusion, on the other hand, decreased activation in the subcortical areas, including the amygdala, the hippocampus, the brainstem, and the thalamus. The direct comparison between experiential emotion regulation and cognitive defusion demonstrated greater activation in the left angular gyrus. The primary finding of this study revealed the neural mechanism of single-instance experiential emotion regulation compared to cognitive defusion and laid the foundation for the following study. The fourth fMRI study (Chapter V) further examined the behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the impact of single versus repeated instances of experiential and cognitive emotion regulation. On the behavioral level, a single instance of experiential emotion regulation initially increased negative emotional experience, whereas cognitive reappraisal immediately decreased it. Repeated experiential emotion regulation resulted in a larger decrease in negative emotional experience compared to repeated cognitive reappraisal. On the physiological level, single-instance experiential emotion regulation, relative to single-instance cognitive reappraisal, resulted in slower respiratory activity, while cognitive reappraisal did not affect physiology. Neither repeated cognitive reappraisal, nor repeated experiential emotion regulation further attenuated the physiological responses. On the neural level, a single instance of experiential emotion regulation resulted in deactivation of the precentral gyrus, while a single instance of cognitive reappraisal triggered activation of the emotion regulation network in the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus. Repeated experiential emotion regulation resulted in additional neural activity, namely the activation of the anterior insular cortex – which is central to interoceptive awareness – while repeated cognitive reappraisal activated the same emotion regulation network as with single-instance cognitive reappraisal. Moreover, experiential emotion regulation activated brain areas involved in affective processing and bodily awareness to a greater degree than cognitive reappraisal, whereas cognitive reappraisal caused more activation in a brain network involved in cognitive control, attentional processes, and language processing than experiential emotion regulation. Altogether, these four empirical studies strived to elucidate the working mechanisms underpinning experiential emotion regulation, as a complementary emotion regulation strategy to cognitive emotion regulation. Based on the research findings, we observed that experiential emotion regulation does not act immediately but may require repeated processing of emotions to yield in-depth effects and become progressively effective. With regards to repeated processing, experiential emotion regulation resulted in 1) a steeper relative decrease of negative emotional experience; 2) an enhanced activation of the anterior insular cortex – a central area in affective and interoceptive awareness. Experiential emotion regulation also appeared to slow down respiratory activity, indicating a dampening effect on the autonomic system. In summary, this Ph.D. dissertation revealed common and distinct behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms in experiential and cognitive emotion regulation. Furthermore, this research reflects a first, in-depth, experimental validation of a crucial approach within experiential psychotherapy operationalized by 'experiential emotion regulation’, providing new and innovative insights towards our understanding of the processes of emotion regulation in experiential, emotion focused, and client-centered psychotherapeutic approaches.}},
  author       = {{Wang, Yulin}},
  keywords     = {{Emotion regulation,experiential,reappraisal,negative affect,physiology,neuroimaging}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{202}},
  publisher    = {{Free University of Brussels. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences ; Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences}},
  school       = {{Ghent University}},
  title        = {{Common and distinct behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms in experiential and cognitive emotion regulation}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}