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Tor Wager

Neuroscience Symposium

Date 2 February 2024
Research group Gazzola
Location Amsterdam
Program 4:00 p.m - A new look at self-regulation.
4:45 p.m - Discussion and Drinks

One of humans’ most important capacities is self-regulation, the ability to use goals and contextual knowledge to influence our feelings, decisions, and sometimes perception and physiology. Early neuroimaging studies suggest that goal-directed regulation of pain and emotion can have substantial impacts on the brain generators of negative affect, particularly the amgydala. However, these studies have been small and subject to potential selection and analytic biases. It remains unclear to what degree humans can regulate responses in core affective brain systems, and what psychological and behavioral ingredients lead to their
effective regulation. This talk takes a new look at self-regulation of negative emotion and pain through the lens of comparative effects across over 30 fMRI studies of self-regulation and large-scale fMRI studies (N = 350 on emotion regulation, N = 100 and N = 400 twins on pain regulation) that test established affective neuromarkers. The findings point to different mechanisms from those suspected in the literature, and a need to revise current theories of how emotion and pain are generated in the brain.

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