We investigated the effect of cognitive reappraisal on emotional arousal, facial expressivity and subsequent memory. Men and women viewed emotionally negative pictures while they attempted to either increase or decrease negative emotions elicited by the pictures, or to simply view the pictures. Neutral pictures were also presented with instructions to simply view the pictures. Concurrent changes in emotional arousal and valence were assessed with skin conductance responses (SCRs) and facial corrugator electromyographic responses (EMG), respectively. Picture memory was assessed with an immediate recall test and a delayed recognition test. Relative to simply viewing pictures, voluntary reappraisal to increase negative emotion generated greater facial corrugator EMG and SCR responses, and reappraisal to decrease negative emotion generated decreased corrugator EMG responses. Men showed enhanced recognition for pictures presented during the increase and decrease conditions, whereas women showed comparable recognition performance across all regulation conditions. The modulation of subsequent recognition memory associated with decreasing emotion was inversely associated with changes in physiological responses. Our results suggest that sex is an important factor to consider in determining how reappraisal-induced physiological changes are associated with subsequent changes in memory. These findings contribute to our understanding of how reappraising emotion exerts both immediate and enduring influences on physiological responses and subsequent memory.
- Corrugator EMG
- Emotion regulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)