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1.  Cognitive Emotion Regulation: Insights from Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 
Recent developments in the study of cognitive emotion regulation illustrate how functional imaging is extending behavioral analyses. Imaging studies have contributed to the development of a multi-level model of emotion regulation that describes the interactions between neural systems implicated in emotion generation and those implicated in emotional control. In this article, we review imaging studies of one type of cognitive emotion regulation, namely reappraisal. We show how imaging studies have contributed to the construction of this model, illustrate the interplay of psychological theory and neuroscience data in its development, and describe how this model can be used as the basis for future basic and translational research.
PMCID: PMC4241349  PMID: 25425765
emotion; emotion regulation; cognitive control; amygdala; prefrontal cortex
2.  Adapting Social Neuroscience Measures for Schizophrenia Clinical Trials, Part 2: Trolling the Depths of Psychometric Properties 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2013;39(6):1201-1210.
The psychometric properties of 4 paradigms adapted from the social neuroscience literature were evaluated to determine their suitability for use in clinical trials of schizophrenia. This 2-site study (University of California, Los Angeles and University of North Carolina) included 173 clinically stable schizophrenia outpatients and 88 healthy controls. The social cognition battery was administered twice to the schizophrenia group (baseline, 4-week retest) and once to the control group. The 4 paradigms included 2 that assess perception of nonverbal social and action cues (basic biological motion and emotion in biological motion) and 2 that involve higher level inferences about self and others’ mental states (self-referential memory and empathic accuracy). Each paradigm was evaluated on (1) patient vs healthy control group differences, (2) test-retest reliability, (3) utility as a repeated measure, and (4) tolerability. Of the 4 paradigms, empathic accuracy demonstrated the strongest characteristics, including large between-group differences, adequate test-retest reliability (.72), negligible practice effects, and good tolerability ratings. The other paradigms showed weaker psychometric characteristics in their current forms. These findings highlight challenges in adapting social neuroscience paradigms for use in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3796089  PMID: 24072805
social neuroscience; schizophrenia;  psychometrics
3.  Adapting Social Neuroscience Measures for Schizophrenia Clinical Trials, Part 3: Fathoming External Validity 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2013;39(6):1211-1218.
It is unknown whether measures adapted from social neuroscience linked to specific neural systems will demonstrate relationships to external variables. Four paradigms adapted from social neuroscience were administered to 173 clinically stable outpatients with schizophrenia to determine their relationships to functionally meaningful variables and to investigate their incremental validity beyond standard measures of social and nonsocial cognition. The 4 paradigms included 2 that assess perception of nonverbal social and action cues (basic biological motion and emotion in biological motion) and 2 that involve higher level inferences about self and others’ mental states (self- referential memory and empathic accuracy). Overall, social neuroscience paradigms showed significant relationships to functional capacity but weak relationships to community functioning; the paradigms also showed weak correlations to clinical symptoms. Evidence for incremental validity beyond standard measures of social and nonsocial cognition was mixed with additional predictive power shown for functional capacity but not community functioning. Of the newly adapted paradigms, the empathic accuracy task had the broadest external validity. These results underscore the difficulty of translating developments from neuroscience into clinically useful tasks with functional significance.
PMCID: PMC3796091  PMID: 24072806
schizophrenia; social cognition; social neuroscience; functional outcome
4.  Adapting Social Neuroscience Measures for Schizophrenia Clinical Trials, Part 1: Ferrying Paradigms Across Perilous Waters 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2013;39(6):1192-1200.
Social cognitive impairment is prominent in schizophrenia, and it is closely related to functional outcome. Partly for these reasons, it has rapidly become a target for both training and psychopharmacological interventions. However, there is a paucity of reliable and valid social cognitive endpoints that can be used to evaluate treatment response in clinical trials. Also, clinical studies in schizophrenia have benefited rather little from the surge of activity and knowledge in nonclinical social neuroscience. The National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored study, “Social Cognition and Functioning in Schizophrenia” (SCAF), attempted to address this translational challenge by selecting paradigms from social neuroscience that could be adapted for use in schizophrenia. The project also evaluated the psychometric properties and external validity of the tasks to determine their suitability for multisite clinical trials. This first article in the theme section presents the goals, conceptual background, and rationale for the SCAF project.
PMCID: PMC3796092  PMID: 24072811
social neuroscience; social cognition; schizophrenia; clinical trials
5.  Brain mediators of cardiovascular responses to social threat, Part II: Prefrontal-subcortical pathways and relationship with anxiety 
NeuroImage  2009;47(3):836-851.
Social evaluative threat (SET) is a potent stressor in humans linked to autonomic and endocrine responses, and multiple health problems. Neuroimaging has recently begun to elucidate the brain correlates of SET, but as yet little is known about the mediating cortical-brainstem pathways in humans. This paper replicates and extends findings in a companion paper (Wager et al., submitted) using an independent cohort of participants and different image acquisition parameters. Here, we focused specifically on relationships between the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG), and heart rate (HR). We applied multi-level path analysis to localize brain mediators of SET effects on HR and self-reported anxiety. HR responses were mediated by opposing signals in two distinct sub-regions of the MPFC—increases in rostral dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (rdACC) and deactivation in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). In addition, HR responses were mediated by PAG. Additional path analyses provided support for two cortical subcortical pathways: one linking vmPFC, PAG, and HR, and another linking rdACC, thalamus, and HR. PAG responses were linked with HR changes both before and during SET, whereas cortical regions showed stronger connectivity with HR during threat. Self-reported anxiety showed a partially overlapping, but weaker, pattern of mediators, including the vmPFC, dorsomedial PFC (dmPFC), and lateral frontal cortex, as well as substantial individual differences that were largely unexplained. Taken together, these data suggest pathways for the translation of social threats into both physiological and experiential responses, and provide targets for future research on the generation and regulation of emotion.
PMCID: PMC4169880  PMID: 19465135
6.  The Neural Bases of Distraction and Reappraisal 
Journal of cognitive neuroscience  2010;22(2):248-262.
Distraction and reappraisal are two commonly used forms of cognitive emotion regulation. Functional neuroimaging studies have shown that each one depends upon interactions between prefrontal cortex, interpreted as implementing cognitive control, and limbic regions, interpreted as mediating emotional responses. However, no study has directly compared distraction with reappraisal, and it thus remains unclear whether they draw upon different neural mechanisms and have different emotional consequences. The present fMRI study compared distraction and reappraisal, and found both similarities and differences between the two forms of emotion regulation. Both resulted in decreased negative affect, decreased activation in the amygdala, and increased activation in prefrontal and cingulate regions. Relative to distraction, reappraisal led to greater decreases in negative affect, and greater increases in a network of regions associated with processing affective meaning (medial prefrontal and anterior temporal cortices). Relative to reappraisal, distraction led to greater decreases in amygdala activation, and greater increases in activation in prefrontal and parietal regions. Taken together, these data suggest that distraction and reappraisal differentially engage neural systems involved in attentional deployment and cognitive reframing, and have different emotional consequences.
PMCID: PMC4136451  PMID: 19400679
7.  Functional imaging studies of emotion regulation: A synthetic review and evolving model of the cognitive control of emotion 
This paper reviews and synthesizes functional imaging research that over the past decade has begun to offer new insights into the brain mechanisms underlying emotion regulation. Towards that end, the first section of the paper outlines a model of the processes and neural systems involved in emotion generation and regulation. The second section surveys recent research supporting and elaborating the model, focusing primarily on studies of the most commonly investigated strategy, which is known as reappraisal. At its core, the model specifies how prefrontal and cingulate control systems modulate activity in perceptual, semantic and affect systems as a function of one's regulatory goals, tactics, and the nature of the stimuli and emotions being regulated. This section also shows how the model can be generalized to understand the brain mechanisms underlying other emotion regulation strategies as well as a range of other allied phenomena. The third and last section considers directions for future research, including how basic models of emotion regulation can be translated to understand changes in emotion across the lifespan and in clinical disorders.
PMCID: PMC4133790  PMID: 23025352
emotion; emotion regulation; cognitive control; amygdala; prefrontal cortex
8.  Age-Related Differences in Emotional Reactivity, Regulation, and Rejection Sensitivity in Adolescence 
Emotion (Washington, D.C.)  2012;12(6):1235-1247.
Although adolescents’ emotional lives are thought to be more turbulent than those of adults, it is unknown whether this difference is attributable to developmental changes in emotional reactivity or emotion regulation. Study 1 addressed this question by presenting healthy individuals aged 10–23 with negative and neutral pictures and asking them to respond naturally or use cognitive reappraisal to down-regulate their responses on a trial-by-trial basis. Results indicated that age exerted both linear and quadratic effects on regulation success but was unrelated to emotional reactivity. Study 2 replicated and extended these findings using a different reappraisal task and further showed that situational (i.e., social vs. nonsocial stimuli) and dispositional (i.e., level of rejection sensitivity) social factors interacted with age to predict regulation success: young adolescents were less successful at regulating responses to social than to nonsocial stimuli, particularly if the adolescents were high in rejection sensitivity. Taken together, these results have important implications for the inclusion of emotion regulation in models of emotional and cognitive development.
PMCID: PMC4131311  PMID: 22642356
emotion regulation; adolescent development; rejection sensitivity; reappraisal
9.  Common representation of pain and negative emotion in the midbrain periaqueductal gray 
Human neuroimaging offers a powerful way to connect animal and human research on emotion, with profound implications for psychological science. However, the gulf between animal and human studies remains a formidable obstacle: human studies typically focus on the cortex and a few subcortical regions such as the amygdala, whereas deeper structures such as the brainstem periaqueductal gray (PAG) play a key role in animal models. Here, we directly assessed the role of PAG in human affect by interleaving in a single fMRI session two conditions known to elicit strong emotional responses—physical pain and negative image viewing. Negative affect and PAG activity increased in both conditions. We next examined eight independent data sets, half featuring pain stimulation and half negative image viewing. In sum, these data sets comprised 198 additional participants. We found increased activity in PAG in all eight studies. Taken together, these findings suggest PAG is a key component of human affective responses.
PMCID: PMC3739905  PMID: 22446299
periaqueductal gray; emotion; affect; pain; fMRI
10.  Learning biases underlying individual differences in sensitivity to social rejection 
Emotion (Washington, D.C.)  2013;13(4):616-621.
People vary greatly in their dispositions to anxiously expect, readily perceive, and strongly react to social rejection (rejection sensitivity, RS) with implications for social functioning and health. Here, we examined how RS influences learning about social threat. Using a classical fear conditioning task, we established that high as compared to low (HRS vs. LRS) individuals displayed a resistance to extinction of the conditioned response to angry faces, but not to neutral faces or non-social stimuli. Our findings suggest that RS biases the flexible updating of acquired expectations for threat, which helps to explain how RS operates as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
PMCID: PMC4067255  PMID: 23914767
Fear conditioning; Rejection sensitivity; Social threat; Extinction; Skin conductance response
11.  Cognitive Reappraisal of Negative Affect: Converging Evidence From EMG and Self-Report 
Emotion (Washington, D.C.)  2010;10(4):587-592.
Prior psychophysiological studies of cognitive reappraisal have generally focused on the down-regulation of negative affect, and have demonstrated either changes in self-reports of affective experience, or changes in facial EMG, but not both. Unfortunately, when taken separately, these measures are vulnerable to different sources of bias, and alternative explanations might account for changes in these indicators of negative affect. What is needed is a study that (1) obtains measures of self-reported affect together with facial EMG, and (2) examines the use of reappraisal to regulate externally and internally generated affective responses. In the present study, participants up- or down-regulated negative affect in the context of both negative and neutral pictures. Up-regulation led to greater self reports of negative affect, as well as greater corrugator and startle responses to both negative and neutral stimuli. Down-regulation led to lesser reports of negative affect, and lesser corrugator responses to negative and neutral stimuli. These results extend prior research by (1) showing simultaneous effects on multiple measures of affect, and (2) demonstrating that cognitive reappraisal may be used both to regulate responses to negative stimuli and to manufacture a negative response to neutral stimuli.
PMCID: PMC4106258  PMID: 20677875
Emotion; Affect; Regulation; Startle; EMG; Reappraisal
12.  Neural Substrates of Empathic Accuracy in People With Schizophrenia 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2012;39(3):617-628.
Empathic deficits in schizophrenia may lead to social dysfunction, but previous studies of schizophrenia have not modeled empathy through paradigms that (1) present participants with naturalistic social stimuli and (2) link brain activity to “accuracy” about inferring other’s emotional states. This study addressed this gap by investigating the neural correlates of empathic accuracy (EA) in schizophrenia.
Fifteen schizophrenia patients and 15 controls were scanned while continuously rating the affective state of another person shown in a series of videos (ie, targets). These ratings were compared with targets’ own self-rated affect, and EA was defined as the correlation between participants’ ratings and targets’ self-ratings. Targets’ self-reported emotional expressivity also was measured. We searched for brain regions whose activity tracked parametrically with (1) perceivers’ EA and (2) targets’ expressivity.
Patients showed reduced EA compared with controls. The left precuneus, left middle frontal gyrus, and bilateral thalamus were significantly more correlated with EA in controls compared with patients. High expressivity in targets was associated with better EA in controls but not in patients. High expressivity was associated with increased brain activity in a large set of regions in controls (eg, fusiform gyrus, medial prefrontal cortex) but not in patients.
These results use a naturalistic performance measure to confirm that schizophrenic patients demonstrate impaired ability to understand others’ internal states. They provide novel evidence about a potential mechanism for this impairment: schizophrenic patients failed to capitalize on targets’ emotional expressivity and also demonstrate reduced neural sensitivity to targets’ affective cues.
PMCID: PMC3627780  PMID: 22451493
social cognition; empathic accuracy; emotional expressivity; schizophrenia; functional imaging
13.  An Intact Social Cognitive Process in Schizophrenia: Situational Context Effects on Perception of Facial Affect 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2012;39(3):640-647.
Impaired facial affect recognition is the most consistent social cognitive finding in schizophrenia. Although social situations provide powerful constraints on our perception, little is known about how situational context modulates facial affect recognition in schizophrenia.
Study 1 was a single-site study with 34 schizophrenia patients and 22 healthy controls. Study 2 was a 2-site study with 68 schizophrenia patients and 28 controls. Both studies administered a Situational Context Facial Affect Recognition Task with 2 conditions: a situational context condition and a no-context condition. For the situational context condition, a briefly shown face was preceded by a sentence describing either a fear- or surprise-inducing event. In the no-context condition, a face was presented without a sentence. For both conditions, subjects rated how fearful or surprised the face appeared on a 9-point Likert scale.
For the situational context condition of study 1, both patients and controls rated faces as more afraid when they were paired with fear-inducing sentences and as more surprised when they were paired with surprise-inducing sentences. The degree of modulation was comparable across groups. For the no-context condition, patients rated faces comparably to controls. The findings of study 2 replicated those from study 1.
Despite previous abnormalities in other types of context paradigms, this study found intact situational context processing in schizophrenia, suggesting that patients benefit from situational context when interpreting ambiguous facial expression. This area of relative social cognitive strength in schizophrenia has implications for social cognitive training programs.
PMCID: PMC3627776  PMID: 22532704
schizophrenia; contextual modulation; facial affect processing; social cognition
14.  Schizophrenia Patients are Impaired in Empathic Accuracy 
Psychological medicine  2011;41(11):2297-2304.
Empathy is crucial for successful social relationships. Despite its importance for social interactions, little is known about empathy in schizophrenia. This study investigated the degree to which schizophrenia patients can accurately infer the affective state of another person (i.e. empathic accuracy).
Thirty schizophrenia patients and 22 healthy controls performed an Empathic Accuracy task on which they continuously rated the affective state of another person shown in a video (referred to as the “target”). These ratings were compared with the target’s own continuous self-rating of affective state; empathic accuracy was defined as the correlation between participants’ ratings and the targets’ self-ratings. A separate line-tracking task was administered to measure motoric / attentional factors that could account for group differences in performance. Participants’ self-rated empathy was measured using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and targets’ self-rated emotional expressivity was measured using the Berkeley Expressivity Questionnaire.
Compared to controls, schizophrenia patients showed lower empathic accuracy although they performed the motoric tracking task at high accuracy. There was a significant group by target expressivity interaction such that patients showed a smaller increase in empathic accuracy with higher levels of emotional expressivity by the target, compared with controls. Patients’ empathic accuracy was uncorrelated with self-reported empathy or clinical symptoms.
Schizophrenia patients showed lower empathic accuracy than controls, and their empathic accuracy was less influenced by the emotional expressivity of the target. These findings suggest that schizophrenia patients benefit less from social cues of another person when making an empathic judgment.
PMCID: PMC3928128  PMID: 21524334
empathic accuracy; expressivity; social cognition; schizophrenia
15.  Social and Nonsocial Cognition in Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia: Relative Levels of Impairment 
The American journal of psychiatry  2013;170(3):10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.12040490.
This study aimed to determine the relative extent of impairment in social and nonsocial cognitive domains in patients with bipolar disorder compared with schizophrenia patients and healthy comparison subjects.
Sixty-eight clinically stable outpatients with bipolar disorder, 38 clinically stable outpatients with schizophrenia, and 36 healthy comparison subjects completed a range of social (facial affect perception, emotional regulation, empathic accuracy, mental state attribution, and self-referential memory) and nonsocial (speed of processing, attention/vigilance, working memory, verbal memory, visual memory, and reasoning/problem solving) cognitive tasks.
For each social cognitive task, patients with bipolar disorder did not differ significantly from comparison subjects, and both groups performed better than schizophrenia patients. Within the bipolar group, clinical features and medication status were not related to social cognitive performance. Bipolar patients showed performance patterns across tasks (i.e., profiles) that were similar to those of comparison subjects on both social and nonsocial cognitive domains, whereas both groups differed from schizophrenia patients for both domains. Regarding relative impairment across the two cognitive domains, results revealed a significant group-by-domain interaction in which bipolar patients showed less impaired social than nonsocial cognition, while schizophrenia patients showed the opposite pattern.
Bipolar patients showed less impairment on social relative to nonsocial cognitive performance, whereas schizophrenia patients showed more impairment on social relative to nonsocial cognitive performance. These results suggest that these two cognitive domains play different roles in bipolar disorder compared with in schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3869864  PMID: 23450289
16.  A Meta-Analysis of Functional Neuroimaging Studies of Self and Other Judgments Reveals a Spatial Gradient for Mentalizing in Medial Prefrontal Cortex 
Journal of cognitive neuroscience  2012;24(8):1742-1752.
The distinction between processes used to perceive and understand the self and others has received considerable attention in psychology and neuroscience. Brain findings highlight a role for various regions, in particular the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), in supporting judgments about both the self and others. We performed a meta-analysis of 107 neuroimaging studies of self- and other-related judgments using Multilevel Kernel Density Analysis (MKDA; Kober & Wager, 2010). We sought to determine what brain regions are reliably involved in each judgment type, and in particular, what the spatial and functional organization of mPFC is with respect to them. Relative to non-mentalizing judgments, both self and other judgments were associated with activity in mPFC, ranging from ventral to dorsal extents, as well as common activation of the left temporoparietal junction (TPJ) and posterior cingulate. A direct comparison between self and other judgments revealed that ventral mPFC (vmPFC), as well as left ventrolateral PFC and left insula, were more frequently activated by self-related judgments, whereas dorsal mPFC (dmPFC), in addition to bilateral TPJ and cuneus, were more frequently activated by other-related judgments. Logistic regression analyses revealed that ventral and dorsal mPFC lay at opposite ends of a functional gradient: the z-coordinates reported in individual studies predicted whether the study involved self- or other-related judgments, which were associated with increasingly ventral or dorsal portions of mPFC, respectively. These results argue for a distributed rather than localizationist account of mPFC organization and support an emerging view on the functional heterogeneity of mPFC.
PMCID: PMC3806720  PMID: 22452556
17.  Double Dissociation: Circadian Off-Peak Times Increase Emotional Reactivity; Aging Impairs Emotion Regulation Via Reappraisal 
Emotion (Washington, D.C.)  2012;12(5):869-874.
This study explored how the effectiveness of specific emotion regulation strategies might be influenced by aging and by time of day, given that in older age the circadian peak in cognitive performance is earlier in the day. We compared the benefit gained by 40 older (60–78 years; 20 women) and 40 younger (18–30 years; 20 women) adults during either on-peak or off-peak circadian times on 2 specific types of cognitive emotion regulation strategies: distraction and reappraisal. Participants rated their negative emotional responses to negative and neutral images under 3 conditions: a baseline nonregulation condition, a distraction condition involving a working memory task, and a reappraisal condition that involved reinterpreting the situation displayed using specific preselected strategies. First, as hypothesized, there was a crossover interaction such that participants in each age group reported more negative reactivity at their off-peak time of day. Second, a double dissociation was observed as circadian rhythms affected only negative reactivity—with reactivity highest at off-peak times—and aging diminished reappraisal but not distraction ability or reactivity. These findings add to growing evidence that understanding the effects of aging on emotion and emotion regulation depends on taking both time of day and type of regulatory strategy into account.
PMCID: PMC3758763  PMID: 22642354
emotional reactivity; emotion regulation; cognitive reappraisal; aging; circadian rhythms
18.  Regulation of Emotion in Major Depressive Disorder 
Biological psychiatry  2011;70(10):910-911.
PMCID: PMC3668331  PMID: 22018356
19.  The development of emotion regulation: an fMRI study of cognitive reappraisal in children, adolescents and young adults 
The ability to use cognitive reappraisal to regulate emotions is an adaptive skill in adulthood, but little is known about its development. Because reappraisal is thought to be supported by linearly developing prefrontal regions, one prediction is that reappraisal ability develops linearly. However, recent investigations into socio-emotional development suggest that there are non-linear patterns that uniquely affect adolescents. We compared older children (10–13), adolescents (14–17) and young adults (18–22) on a task that distinguishes negative emotional reactivity from reappraisal ability. Behaviorally, we observed no age differences in self-reported emotional reactivity, but linear and quadratic relationships between reappraisal ability and age. Neurally, we observed linear age-related increases in activation in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, previously identified in adult reappraisal. We observed a quadratic pattern of activation with age in regions associated with social cognitive processes like mental state attribution (medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, anterior temporal cortex). In these regions, we observed relatively lower reactivity-related activation in adolescents, but higher reappraisal-related activation. This suggests that (i) engagement of the cognitive control components of reappraisal increases linearly with age and (ii) adolescents may not normally recruit regions associated with mental state attribution, but (iii) this can be reversed with reappraisal instructions.
PMCID: PMC3252634  PMID: 22228751
reappraisal; emotion regulation; development; social; cognitive
20.  Previously reappraised: the lasting effect of description type on picture-elicited electrocortical activity 
To examine whether reappraisal modifies responses to subsequent encounters with stimuli, participants viewed neutral and unpleasant pictures that were preceded by negative or neutral descriptions which served as reappraisal frames. A half an hour later, the same pictures were presented, without preceding frames; EEG was recorded and participants rated each picture on arousal and valence. In line with previous work, unpleasant compared to neutral pictures elicited more positive early- (359 ms), mid- (1074 ms) and late-latency (2436 ms) centrally-distributed ERP components. Pictures previously preceded by negative compared to neutral reappraisal frames were rated as more unpleasant and more emotionally arousing; these pictures elicited a larger mid-latency (1074 ms) occipital positivity. Together, the data suggest that reappraisal exerts an enduring effect on both subjective and neural responses to stimuli.
PMCID: PMC3110435  PMID: 20584721
ERPs; reappraisal; IAPS; late positive potential; emotion regulation; PCA
21.  Do patients with schizophrenia benefit from a self-referential memory bias? 
Schizophrenia research  2010;127(1-3):171-177.
Self-referential processing (i.e. linking internal and external stimuli to one’s own self) has received scant attention thus far in schizophrenia. This type of processing is a key component of social cognition and thought to be important for adaptive social functioning. Memory studies in healthy subjects have shown that stimuli processed with reference to the self are better remembered than stimuli processed in other semantic forms. It is not known whether schizophrenia patients benefit from such a memory boost for self-referenced information.
Twenty-five schizophrenia patients and 22 controls were assessed with a self-referential recognition memory paradigm. During an encoding phase, participants rated personality adjectives in each of three conditions: (1) structural features (uppercase or lowercase letters?); (2) social desirability (is adjective socially desirable or not?); or (3) self-referential (does adjective describe me or not?). Recognition memory for these personality adjectives was then tested during an unexpected yes-no recognition test.
Patients and controls were comparable in memory performance for the structural (p = 0.12) and social desirability (p = 0.30) conditions. In contrast, patients showed significantly reduced recognition sensitivity compared to controls for the self-referential condition (p = 0.03).
Compared to healthy controls, patients with schizophrenia did not benefit from a memory boost for self-referenced information. Such impaired self-referential memory may be associated with abnormal function of the medial prefrontal cortex. The inability to enhance memory for personally relevant information may partly explain poor social functioning in schizophrenia patients.
PMCID: PMC3050992  PMID: 21147520
self-referential processing; recognition memory; social cognition; schizophrenia
22.  Task-dependent neural bases of perceiving emotionally expressive targets 
Social cognition is fundamentally interpersonal: individuals' behavior and dispositions critically affect their interaction partners' information processing. However, cognitive neuroscience studies, partially because of methodological constraints, have remained largely “perceiver-centric”: focusing on the abilities, motivations, and goals of social perceivers while largely ignoring interpersonal effects. Here, we address this knowledge gap by examining the neural bases of perceiving emotionally expressive and inexpressive social “targets.” Sixteen perceivers were scanned using fMRI while they watched targets discussing emotional autobiographical events. Perceivers continuously rated each target's emotional state or eye-gaze direction. The effects of targets' emotional expressivity on perceiver's brain activity depended on task set: when perceivers explicitly attended to targets' emotions, expressivity predicted activity in neural structures—including medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortex—associated with drawing inferences about mental states. When perceivers instead attended to targets' eye-gaze, target expressivity predicted activity in regions—including somatosensory cortex, fusiform gyrus, and motor cortex—associated with monitoring sensorimotor states and biological motion. These findings suggest that expressive targets affect information processing in manner that depends on perceivers' goals. More broadly, these data provide an early step toward understanding the neural bases of interpersonal social cognition.
PMCID: PMC3410370  PMID: 22876229
emotional expressivity; empathy; fMRI; medial prefrontal cortex; social cognition
23.  Born to Choose: The Origins and Value of the Need for Control 
Trends in cognitive sciences  2010;14(10):457-463.
Belief in one’s ability to exert control over the environment and to produce desired results is essential for an individual’s well being. It has been repeatedly argued that the perception of control is not only desirable, but it is likely a psychological and biological necessity. In this article, we review the literature supporting this claim and present evidence for a biological basis for the need for control and for choice — that is, the means by which we exercise control over the environment. Converging evidence from animal research, clinical studies, and neuroimaging work suggest that the need for control is a biological imperative for survival, and a corticostriatal network is implicated as the neural substrate of this adaptive behavior.
PMCID: PMC2944661  PMID: 20817592
24.  The Effects of BOTOX® Injections on Emotional Experience 
Emotion (Washington, D.C.)  2010;10(3):433-440.
Although it was proposed over a century ago that feedback from facial expressions influence emotional experience, tests of this hypothesis have been equivocal. Here we directly tested this facial feedback hypothesis (FFH) by comparing the impact on self-reported emotional experience of BOTOX injections (which paralyze muscles of facial expression) and a control Restylane injection (which is a cosmetic filler that does not affect facial muscles). When examined alone, BOTOX participants showed no pre- to post-treatment changes in emotional responses to our most positive and negative video clips. Between-groups comparisons, however, showed that relative to controls, BOTOX participants exhibited an overall significant decrease in the strength of emotional experience. This result was attributable to a) a pre- vs. post decrease in responses to mildly positive clips in the BOTOX group and b) an unexpected increase in responses to negative clips in the Restylane control group. These data suggest that feedback from facial expressions is not necessary for emotional experience, but may influence emotional experience in some circumstances. These findings point to specific directions for future work clarifying the expression-experience relationship.
PMCID: PMC2880828  PMID: 20515231
BOTOX; Emotional Experience; Facial Expression; Facial Feedback; Embodied Emotion
25.  Neural Correlates of Using Distancing to Regulate Emotional Responses to Social Situations 
Neuropsychologia  2010;48(6):1813-1822.
Cognitive reappraisal is a commonly used and highly adaptive strategy for emotion regulation that has been studied in healthy volunteers. Most studies to date have focused on forms of reappraisal that involve reinterpreting the meaning of stimuli and have intermixed social and non-social emotional stimuli. Here we examined the neural correlates of the regulation of negative emotion elicited by social situations using a less studied form of reappraisal known as distancing. Whole brain fMRI data were obtained as participants viewed aversive and neutral social scenes with instructions to either simply look at and respond naturally to the images or to downregulate their emotional responses by distancing. Three key findings were obtained accompanied with the reduced aversive response behaviorally. First, across both instruction types, aversive social images activated the amygdala. Second, across both image types, distancing activated the precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), intraparietal sulci (IPS), and middle/superior temporal gyrus (M/STG). Third, when distancing one’s self from aversive images, activity increased in dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), lateral prefrontal cortex, precuneus and PCC, IPS, and M/STG, meanwhile, and decreased in the amygdala. These findings demonstrate that distancing from aversive social cues modulates amygdala activity via engagement of networks implicated in social perception, perspective-taking, and attentional allocation.
PMCID: PMC2905649  PMID: 20226799
Emotion; Cognitive Reappraisal; Social Cognitive Neuroscience; Emotional Distancing; Emotion Regulation; fMRI

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