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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 22 December 2010 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2010.00230

Staying cool when things get hot: emotion regulation modulates neural mechanisms of memory encoding

Jasmeet Pannu Hayes1,2,3,4*, Rajendra A. Morey3,4,5,6, Christopher M. Petty3, Srishti Seth3, Moria J. Smoski5, Gregory McCarthy3,4,7 and Kevin S. LaBar3,6
  • 1 National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA
  • 2 Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
  • 3 Duke-UNC Brain Imaging and Analysis Center, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
  • 4 Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center, Durham VA Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
  • 5 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
  • 6 Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
  • 7 Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

During times of emotional stress, individuals often engage in emotion regulation to reduce the experiential and physiological impact of negative emotions. Interestingly, emotion regulation strategies also influence memory encoding of the event. Cognitive reappraisal is associated with enhanced memory while expressive suppression is associated with impaired explicit memory of the emotional event. However, the mechanism by which these emotion regulation strategies affect memory is unclear. We used event-related fMRI to investigate the neural mechanisms that give rise to memory formation during emotion regulation. Twenty-five participants viewed negative pictures while alternately engaging in cognitive reappraisal, expressive suppression, or passive viewing. As part of the subsequent memory design, participants returned to the laboratory two weeks later for a surprise memory test. Behavioral results showed a reduction in negative affect and a retention advantage for reappraised stimuli relative to the other conditions. Imaging results showed that successful encoding during reappraisal was uniquely associated with greater co-activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus, amygdala, and hippocampus, suggesting a possible role for elaborative encoding of negative memories. This study provides neurobehavioral evidence that engaging in cognitive reappraisal is advantageous to both affective and mnemonic processes.

Keywords: arousal, cognitive reappraisal, declarative memory, expressive suppression, subsequent memory paradigm, hippocampus, amygdala, left inferior frontal gyrus

Citation: Hayes JP, Morey RA, Petty CM, Seth S, Smoski MJ, McCarthy G and LaBar KS (2010) Staying cool when things get hot: emotion regulation modulates neural mechanisms of memory encoding. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 4:230. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2010.00230

Received: 28 July 2010; Accepted: 08 December 2010;
Published online: 22 December 2010.

Edited by:

Maryse Lassonde, Université de Montréal, Canada

Reviewed by:

David M. Schnyer, University of Texas, USA
Tom Johnstone, University of Reading, UK

Copyright: © 2010 Hayes, Morey, Petty, Seth, Smoski, McCarthy and LaBar. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Jasmeet Pannu Hayes, National Center for PTSD (116B-2), VA Boston Healthcare System, 150 S. Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130, USA. e-mail: jphayes@bu.edu