Neural correlates of emotion regulation : an fMRI study of big picture reappraisal



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Cognitive emotion regulation strategies can be used to counter the negative effects of life stress. In neuroimaging paradigms, many different types of reappraisal strategies have been used to promote cognitive coping with impersonal, emotion-evoking stimuli, but limited research has been done utilizing specific reappraisal strategies with real-life events. Big picture reappraisal is a specific emotion regulation strategy that offers a way of managing distress aiming to promote acceptance and cognitive coping. Big picture reappraisal instructions (experimental condition) were compared to distraction and rumination instructions (control conditions) resulting in activation in areas associated with cognitive control (orbital frontal cortex, superior parietal lobe, cerebellum lobule VI). Mood ratings collected after each of several condition prompts were significantly more positive in the distraction compared to the big picture reappraisal condition during the first third of the induction, but as the task progressed the effectiveness of distraction declined considerably. There were no significant condition differences in mood during the second and third segments of the induction.