Spontaneous EEG activity and spontaneous emotion regulation

M. Tortella-Feliu, A. Morillas-Romero, M. Balle, J. Llabrés, X. Bornas, P. Putman

International Journal of Psychophysiology, Volume 94, Issue 3, December 2014, Pages 365-372, ISSN 0167-8760,

Variability in both frontal and parietal spontaneous EEG activity, using α and β band power and θ/β and δ/β ratios, was explored in a sample of 96 healthy volunteers as a potential correlate of individual differences in spontaneous emotion regulation (SER). Following a baseline EEG recording, participants were asked to continuously rate their discomfort while looking at affective pictures, as well as for a period of time after exposure. Greater spontaneous β band power in parietal locations, lower frontal and parietal δ/β ratios, and lower parietal θ/β ratio were associated with lower ratings of discomfort after the offset of unpleasant pictures. Moreover, lower parietal δ/β ratio was also related to less time needed to recover from discomfort after exposure to aversive pictures, while only a greater frontal and parietal α band power appeared to be associated with faster recovery from discomfort induced by normative-neutral pictures. However, parietal δ/β ratio was the only predictor of both minimum discomfort ratings and time needed to downregulate following exposure to unpleasant pictures, and frontal α band power the only spontaneous EEG index that predicted variability in spontaneous down-regulation after the exposure to normative-neutral pictures. Results are discussed focusing on the utility of diverse spontaneous EEG measures in several cortical regions when capturing trait-like individual differences in emotion regulation capabilities and processes.
Keywords: Emotion regulation; Spontaneous emotion regulation; Resting EEG; delta/beta ratio; theta/beta ratio

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