Disgusting videos key to first-ever brain imaging study comparing ways of controlling emotions

"Control yourself!"

Most of us haven't heard that admonition since our last childhood tantrum. Nonetheless, it's something we often tell ourselves, consciously or not, as we deal with life's daily ups and downs. The ability to regulate one's emotions is critical to successfully interacting with others. How we go about achieving that self-control has an equally important effect on our own well-being.

Now, researchers at Stanford have conducted the first-ever brain imaging study that directly contrasts two different techniques for emotion regulation. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to observe neural activity in people's brains as they employed each of the two methods in coping with one of the most visceral of human emotions: disgust.

The researchers found that while one method, cognitive reappraisal, reduced the intensity of negative emotions the participants experienced when exposed to videos of disgusting images, the other, expressive suppression, actually increased it.

article source: Stanford News Service

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