Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Emotion regulation includes adaptive (e.g., reappraisal) and non-adaptive behaviors (e.g., avoidance) designed to alter ones’ affective responses. The central hypothesis is that emotional consciousness – being self-aware that you are currently in a particular emotional state – and emotion regulation share the same underlying brain mechanisms/networks. In addition, it is argued that the more appropriate dichotomy, in regard to non-adaptive and adaptive emotion regulation strategies, is dependent on whether they are unconscious or conscious (respectively), positing a two-system framework of emotion regulation. Evidence for the proposed framework draws and builds off of recent theories of higher-order emotional consciousness (LeDoux & Brown, 2017) and supported frameworks of fear/anxiety (LeDoux & Pine, 2016). The literature reviewed suggests that the difference between emotional consciousness and emotion regulation lies in the variations in recruitment of lower-order, subcortical networks and the higher-order interpretation by the same overarching general network of cognition. In the second section, an empirical examination of this theory was conducted using neuroimaging and self-reported anxiety in a sample of youth. I provide evidence for my first hypothesis by identifying significant clusters of grey-matter thickness in the general linear analyses that qualitatively overlap with the general network of cognition proposed to underlie emotional consciousness. Our second hypothesis was partially supported as grey-matter thickness of these regions of the PFC, but not amygdala volume, significantly related to self-reported anxiety. Next, it is demonstrated that this relationship was significantly moderated by youths’ structural connectivity. Post-hoc analyses indicated that prefrontal grey-matter cortical thickness had a significant indirect effect on the relationship between amygdala volume and youth’s self-reported anxiety. The current results provide support for the central hypothesis that emotional consciousness and emotion regulation share many of the same underlying brain networks and mechanisms.

Date

1-14-2020

Committee Chair

Davis, Thompson

Available for download on Tuesday, January 05, 2021

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