Control your emotions: evidence for a shared mechanism of cognitive and emotional control

Cognition and Emotion (forthcoming)
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Abstract

The current investigation examined the bidirectional effects of cognitive control and emotional control and the overlap between these two systems in regulating emotions. Based on recent neural and cognitive findings, we hypothesised that two control systems largely overlap as control recruited for one system (either emotional or cognitive) can be used by the other system. In two experiments, participants completed novel versions of either the Stroop task (Experiment 1) or the Flanker task (Experiment 2) in which the emotional and cognitive control systems were actively manipulated into either a high or low emotional-load condition (achieved by varying the proportions of negative-valence emotional cues) and a high and a low cognitive control condition (achieved through varying the proportion of conflict-laden trials). In both experiments, participants’ performance was impaired when both emotional and cognitive control were low, but significantly and similarly improved when one of the two control mechanisms were activated – the emotional or the cognitive. In Experiment 2, performance was further improved when both systems were activated. Our results give further support for a more integrative notion of control in which the two systems (emotional and cognitive control) not only influence each other, but rather extensively overlap.

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Eldad Keha
Tel Aviv University

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References found in this work

Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions.J. R. Stroop - 1935 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 18 (6):643.
The cognitive control of emotion.K. N. Ochsner & J. J. Gross - 2005 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9 (5):242-249.
Emotion Regulation: Past, Present, Future.James J. Gross - 1999 - Cognition and Emotion 13 (5):551-573.

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