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Theses Doctoral

Behavioral and neural bases of emotion regulation in childhood and adolescence

Silvers, Jennifer Ashley

While much research has suggested that emotional experiences change dramatically over the lifespan, less is known about what underlies these changes at a mechanistic level. Specifically, it is unclear whether age predicts differences in bottom-up reactivity to emotional events, or in the ability to exert top-down control over emotional responses. The present studies sought to address these gaps in the literature. Studies 1 and 2 compared the behavioral and neural correlates, respectively, of emotional reactivity to and regulation of emotional responses to social and non-social aversive stimuli in individuals aged 10-22. Study 1 additionally examined the interaction between individual differences in sensitivity to social rejection and age and how this impacts regulation of emotional responses to social stimuli. Across these studies, age predicted differences in neural and behavioral correlates of regulation but not reactivity. Study 3 broadened the sample age range to include children as young as 6 years and obtained results that were generally consistent with those of Studies 1-2. Study 4 examined the generalizability of the findings from Studies 1-3 by examining reactivity and regulation of appetitive, rather than aversive, responses in participants ranging from 6-22 years. Behavioral indices of reactivity and regulation correlated with age in Study 4, but neural effects of age were only found for regulation. Data from Study 4 additionally suggested links between the neural correlates of regulation of craving and body mass index.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Ochsner, Kevin N.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 1, 2013
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