2 research outputs found

    Affective flexibility as a developmental building block of cognitive reappraisal: An fMRI study

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    Cognitive reappraisal is a form of emotion regulation that involves reinterpreting the meaning of a stimulus, often to downregulate one’s negative affect. Reappraisal typically recruits distributed regions of prefrontal and parietal cortex to generate new appraisals and downregulate the emotional response in the amygdala. In the current study, we compared reappraisal ability in an fMRI task with affective flexibility in a sample of children and adolescents (ages 6–17, N = 76). Affective flexibility was defined as variability in valence interpretations of ambiguous (surprised) facial expressions from a second behavioral task. Results demonstrated that age and affective flexibility predicted reappraisal ability, with an interaction indicating that flexibility in children (but not adolescents) supports reappraisal success. Using a region of interest-based analysis of participants’ BOLD time courses, we also found dissociable reappraisal-related brain mechanisms that support reappraisal success and affective flexibility. Specifically, late increases in middle prefrontal cortex activity supported reappraisal success and late decreases in amygdala activity supported flexibility. Together, these results suggest that our novel measure of affective flexibility – the ability to see multiple interpretations of an ambiguous emotional cue – may represent part of the developmental building blocks of cognitive reappraisal ability

    Face masks influence emotion judgments of facial expressions: a drift–diffusion model

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    Abstract Face masks slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, but it has been unknown how masks might reshape social interaction. One important possibility is that masks may influence how individuals communicate emotion through facial expressions. Here, we clarify to what extent—and how—masks influence facial emotion communication, through drift–diffusion modeling (DDM). Over two independent pre-registered studies, conducted three and 6 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, online participants judged expressions of 6 emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise) with the lower or upper face “masked” or unmasked. Participants in Study 1 (N = 228) correctly identified expressions above chance with lower face masks. However, they were less likely—and slower—to correctly identify these expressions relative to without masks, and they accumulated evidence for emotion more slowly—via decreased drift rate in DDM. This pattern replicated and intensified 3 months later in Study 2 (N = 264). These findings highlight how effectively individuals still communicate with masks, but also explain why they can experience difficulties communicating when masked. By revealing evidence accumulation as the underlying mechanism, this work suggests that time-sensitive situations may risk miscommunication with masks. This research could inform critical interventions to promote continued mask wearing as needed