The neural basis of emotions varies over time: different regions go with onset- and offset-bound processes underlying emotion intensity
Emotion regulation theories posit that strategies like reappraisal should impact both the intensity and duration of emotional responses. However, research on reappraisal to date has examined almost exclusively its effect on the intensity of responses while failing to examine its effect on the duration of responses. To address this, we used inverse logit functions to estimate the height and duration of hemodynamic responses to negative pictures when individuals with recent life stress were instructed to use reappraisal either to decrease their negative emotion or to increase their positive emotion (relative to unregulated viewing of negative pictures). Several emotion-generative regions such as the amygdala, thalamus and midbrain exhibited decreases in duration of activation, even when controlling for differences in height of activation. In addition, whereas the amygdala exhibited both decreased activation height and duration when participants reappraised to decrease their negative emotion, it only exhibited decreased duration when participants reappraised to increase their positive emotion. These results indicate that emotion regulation alters the temporal dynamics of emotional responding and that models of reappraisal should accommodate whether reappraisal influences the height of activation, duration of activation or both, which may change based on the goal of the reappraisal strategy being used.