Whether it’s holding back tears after a disappointing rejection, saying no to that second cookie, or getting up early to go to the gym, regulating one’s emotions and behavior is a challenging task. In the SANlab, we examine emotion and self-regulation using both behavioral and biological (e.g., neural responses, heart rate) methods in developmental and adult populations.
In our lab, we primarily focus on the influence of emotions and their regulation on action and behavior. This involves examining emotion at every step of the process – how it is represented in the brain, how it is verbally labelled, when/if individuals recognize the need for it to be regulated, and how one’s emotional experience influences subsequent judgment and decision-making.
To examine these kinds of questions, we utilize functional neuroimaging methods coupled with an emphasis on naturalistic study design. Using fMRI, we can non-invasively examine neural activity as individuals do things like watch movies or TV shows that evoke intense emotional experiences and empathetic responses. Ongoing work in our lab is examining the types of emotion regulation strategies individuals use in naturalistic contexts, what emotions underlie the feeling of being more or less “certain” about a situation and its outcome, and how regulating emotion may make the interpersonal feedback process more constructive.