Inter-individual differences in the habitual use of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression are associated with variations in prefrontal cognitive control for emotional information: an event related fMRI study

Biol Psychol. 2013 Mar;92(3):433-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.03.005. Epub 2012 Mar 16.


Two different emotion regulation strategies, cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression, are strongly associated with increased neural activity in the prefrontal cognitive control network. In this event-related fMRI study, we investigated whether individual differences in habitual reappraisal and suppression tendencies are related to differences in prefrontal cognitive control processes for emotional information. In order to measure cognitive control over inhibiting a dominant response to happy or sad stimuli (in favor of the opposite valence), thirty-one healthy female participants performed the Cued Emotional Conflict Task (CECT). The Emotion Regulation Questionnaire was used to measure individual differences in everyday use of emotion regulation. Results demonstrate that high reappraisers are behaviorally faster and exert more fronto-cingulate activity when inhibiting a response to sad faces (compared to happy faces, FDR corrected). On the other hand, suppression scores are not correlated with performance to CECT trials. Interestingly, suppression scores are associated with higher amygdala activation during the inhibition of a response to sad faces (compared to happy faces). These data suggest that habitual reappraisal is associated with underlying functional cognitive control processes to inhibit a dominant response to negative material. In contrast, the effort to control negative material has negative consequences in individuals who have a tendency to suppress emotions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Individuality*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Prefrontal Cortex / blood supply*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Repression, Psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen