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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 Jan;7(1):11-22. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsr093.

The development of emotion regulation: an fMRI study of cognitive reappraisal in children, adolescents and young adults.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Denver, Frontier Hall, 2155 S. Race St. Denver, CO 80209, USA. Kateri.McRae@du.edu

Abstract

The ability to use cognitive reappraisal to regulate emotions is an adaptive skill in adulthood, but little is known about its development. Because reappraisal is thought to be supported by linearly developing prefrontal regions, one prediction is that reappraisal ability develops linearly. However, recent investigations into socio-emotional development suggest that there are non-linear patterns that uniquely affect adolescents. We compared older children (10-13), adolescents (14-17) and young adults (18-22) on a task that distinguishes negative emotional reactivity from reappraisal ability. Behaviorally, we observed no age differences in self-reported emotional reactivity, but linear and quadratic relationships between reappraisal ability and age. Neurally, we observed linear age-related increases in activation in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, previously identified in adult reappraisal. We observed a quadratic pattern of activation with age in regions associated with social cognitive processes like mental state attribution (medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, anterior temporal cortex). In these regions, we observed relatively lower reactivity-related activation in adolescents, but higher reappraisal-related activation. This suggests that (i) engagement of the cognitive control components of reappraisal increases linearly with age and (ii) adolescents may not normally recruit regions associated with mental state attribution, but (iii) this can be reversed with reappraisal instructions.

PMID:
22228751
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3252634
Free PMC Article
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