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Emotional Suppression Reduces Memory of Negative Events

Summary: Researchers report both implicit and explicit emotional suppression reduces connectivity in brain regions associated with encoding emotional memories.

Source: University of Illinois.

By peering at the brains of study subjects prompted to suppress negative emotions, scientists have gained new insights into how emotional regulation influences negative feelings and memories. The researchers hope the findings will lead to new methods to combat depression.

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Suppress to feel and remember less: Neural correlates of explicit and implicit emotional suppression on perception and memory

Available evidence suggests that emotion regulation can modulate both immediate (emotional experience) and long-term (episodic memory) effects of emotion, and that both explicit and implicit forms may be effective. However, neural mechanisms by which explicit and implicit emotional suppression affect these phenomena remain unclear, particularly regarding their effects on memory. In this study, participants rated the emotional content of negative and neutral images, following explicit (verbal instructions) or implicit (priming) induction of emotional suppression goals, during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants’ memory for the images was tested one week later. Behaviorally, explicit suppression reduced emotional ratings of negative images, whereas both explicit and implicit suppression reduced subsequent memory. At the neural level, the engagement of explicit suppression was uniquely associated with decreased activity in the amygdala (AMY), during emotional ratings, and in the AMY and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), during successful encoding. Although both explicit and implicit suppression diminished functional connectivity between these regions and the hippocampus (HC) linked to successful encoding, explicit suppression was uniquely associated with interference with AMY-HC interactions, which no longer predicted subsequent memory for the explicitly-suppressed items. Overall, these findings advance our understanding of the common and dissociable mechanisms of explicit and implicit emotional suppression on perception and memory, and suggest their impact on both bottom-up and top-down mechanisms involved in emotion-cognition interactions.

Source: Diana Yates – University of Illinois Publisher: Organized by Image Source: image is in the public domain. Original Research: Abstract in Neuropsychologia. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.02.010


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