abstract Noga Cohen

Noga Cohen (Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel)

Using executive control to regulate emotions

Adaptive behavior depends on the ability to effectively regulate emotional responses. Failure in the regulation of emotional arousal can result in heightened physiological reactions and disruptive behavioral performance. In turn, these behavioral and physiological alternations can lead to various psychopathologies. In several studies we demonstrated that executive control, an attentional mechanism that enables goal-directed behavior, attenuates the effects of irrelevant emotional distractors on reaction times (RTs) and on autonomic nervous system (ANS) activation, assessed using pupillary responses. In addition, we showed that training individuals to recruit executive control leads to a significant reduction in amygdala activation to aversive pictures and alleviates rumination, a maladaptive coping strategy that can lead to depression. We suggest that the interplay between emotion and executive control is essential for maintaining adaptive behavior.