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Description: Although cognitive control and emotional control have been proposed to rely on similar cognitive processes, their specific relationship is not well understood. Given that down-regulation of negative emotion requires inhibiting or limiting the expression of a prepotent appraisal of a situation in favor of selecting an alternative appraisal, inhibitory control seems to be a particularly relevant process. However, inconsistent findings on the relationship between inhibitory control and emotion regulation have been reported, likely because of the application of single task measures in relatively small samples. Therefore, this study applied a powerful within-subject design in a large sample (N = 190) and implemented a battery of six commonly used inhibitory control tasks. Emotion regulation was measured via self-reports (habitual use of reappraisal and suppression) and via a laboratory emotion regulation task where participants had to distance themselves from or to actively permit emotions in response to negative and neutral pictures. The emotion regulation task was accompanied by concurrent physiological measurements of corrugator electromyography (EMG), skin conductance response (SCR), and heart period (HP). Frequentist and Bayesian analyses indicated that inhibitory control was neither associated with self-reported reappraisal and suppression use, nor with successful down-regulation of negative emotion via distancing in our sample of young healthy adults. Compared to HP and SCR, corrugator EMG emerged as a suitable peripheral physiological indicator of regulatory success that was indicative of the regulation of negative emotion.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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Individual differences in inhibitory control: A latent variable analysis

Inhibitory control represents a central component of executive functions and focuses on the ability to actively inhibit or delay a dominant response t...

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