Volitional emotion regulation: The costs of control (completed)

The present project aims at elucidating the effectiveness and the potential costs of the inhibition of prepotent responses as a crucial volitional function. Using volitional emotion regulation as an example for the inhibition of particularly prepotent, since evolutionary acquired responses, different cognitive regulation strategies (distraction, volitional down- and up-regulation) will be compared with respect to their behavioral and neural effectiveness, i.e., emotion regulation success, but operationalized along a prolonged time-scale, as this also allows to examine potential costs of volitional emotion regulation as recently evidenced by paradoxical immediate and delayed regulatory after-effects in the activation of one core brain structure involved in emotion regulation, the amygdala. Such costs of volitional control have been reported for volitional emotion down-regulation, but have not been examined so far for other strategies such as distraction or volitional emotion up-regulation. Furthermore, the effectiveness and costs of emotion regulation strategies might differ depending on individual differences in the habitual use of regulation strategies, in emotional personality traits, in mental disorders characterized by dysfunctional emotion regulation, and in genetic predispositions. Project A4 will examine these issues in detail and, thus, will provide groundwork for the present CRC with respect to the effectiveness, costs, and boundary conditions of the volitional control of the inhibition of prepotent responses.