How to Regulate Emotion? Neural Networks for Reappraisal and Distraction

  • P. Kanske, J. Heissler, S. Schonfelder, A. Bongers, M. Wessa
  • Cerebral Cortex, November 2010, Oxford University Press (OUP)
  • DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhq216

How to regulate emotion? Comparing the neural correlates of reappraisal and distraction

What is it about?

This study compares two widely used techniques to voluntarily regulate emotions: reappraisal and distraction. Both techniques reduce the subjective experience of emotion and the concomitant activation of the amygdala, but achieve this through partly distinct regulation networks in orbitofrontal, cingulate and parietal cortices. Connectivity patterns of the amygdala during reappraisal and distraction confirm these neural networks.

Why is it important?

Being able to regulate emotions is associated with all kinds of positive outcomes including better mental and physical health. This study helps us to understand how we achieve emotion regulation, thereby allowing the investigation of its specific impairments in psychopathology and its malleability through intervention.


Philipp Kanske
Technische Universitat Dresden

This is my first paper on emotion regulation, a topic that interests me greatly and that I also believe to be highly relevant for a number of different psychopathologies. In a couple of follow-up studies we could show that the differentiation between these techniques is critical for our understanding of impaired emotion regulation in depression and bipolar disorder.

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The following have contributed to this page: Philipp Kanske