Poster F14, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Does Prefrontal Cortex Activity Underlie Gender Differences in Emotion Regulation? Evidence from Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation
K. Elise Goubet1, Evangelia G. Chrysikou1; 1University of Kansas
Gender differences in emotion regulation (ER) is a topic that remains largely unexplored within the cognitive and affective neuroscience literature. Previous research suggests that men and women regulate their emotions differently, both with regards to the strategies they use to regulate emotional responses and the neural regions associated with such regulation. For example, during a cognitive reappraisal task men exhibit lower increases in prefrontal cortex activity and greater decreases in amygdala activity than women. Interestingly, gender differences do not necessarily characterize the effectiveness of ER processes. This suggests that men and women may engage in ER following different strategies that involve different neural circuits. However, the precise neural mechanisms underlying these differences are not fully understood. In this study, we examined gender differences in ER by using anodal (excitatory), cathodal (inhibitory), or sham transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) to investigate the effects of increased or decreased dlPFC excitability on cognitive reappraisal as measured by subjective emotional arousal ratings and skin conductance responses. Our results from both measures confirm past findings on gender differences in ER; they further suggest that these effects have their origins in baseline differences in dlPFC activity between males and females, which can be causally manipulated with tDCS. We discuss the implications of these results for theories of emotion regulation and dlPFC function.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding