Assistant Professor of Psychology Ravi Thiruchselvam recently published a paper in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN). “Neural Processing of Emotional-intensity Predicts Emotion Regulation Choice” presents the results of a collaborative project done with researchers from Stanford University and Tel Aviv University.
The study examined whether brain activity during the occurrence of an emotional event can predict how individuals later regulate their emotion to it. In other words, is it possible to tell ahead of time how individuals choose to regulate their emotion to specific events?
The researchers found that neural signatures at “Time 1” reliably predicted whether individuals would later, at “Time 2,” choose to regulate emotion by using distraction (a strategy that involves altering the focus of attention) or cognitive reappraisal (a strategy in which involves altering how individuals construe the emotional event).
They concluded that at a general level, people’s apparently voluntary choices – here, in the area of emotion regulation – can be predicted before the choice is actually made.