Positive affect improves, but depression impairs, performance on tasks of executive function (Levin et al., inpress). Extreme emotions are not necessary for these effects: even mild conditions of positive affect orfeeling down have observable influences on the way in which people process information. We have arguedthat the mechanism of these effects depends on emotion-dependent changes in regional brain activity thateither enhance or impair performance, depending on the role that a particular brain region plays in theimplementation of a task. To date, however, there has been no systematic evaluation of the impact ofspecific emotional states on executive function, nor has there been an assessment of the brain activityinvolved. The present project, based at U. Illinois, will examine both state and trait contributions of emotion toexecutive function and has two specific aims. In the first, the effects of state emotion on brain activity will beassessed by inducing mood measuring fMRI during the color-word Stroop task. Our model of regional brainactivity during emotional processing will be integrated with Banich's cascade model of attentional control. Inaddition, we will examine the effect of simulated emotional states on the computational model developed inProject 1.
The second aim i s to integrate our model of brain organization for different emotions with U.Colorado colleagues' model delineating subcomponents of executive function (inhibition, shifting, andupdating). Neuroimaging findings suggest that there are both common and distinct neural networks involvedacross the domains (Collette et al., 2005). Activity in these same neural networks has been implicated in ourmodels of emotional experience and regulation. These data suggest that different emotions may beasssociated with distinct patterns of impaired or enhanced executive function. The focus of Aim 2 is toexamine the influence of trait emotion on executive function by selecting people who score high on affectivedimensions that we have shown to be associated with distinct patterns of brain activity as measured by fMRIand ERPs. Understanding the ways that both state and trait affect might influence cognitive processes andassociated patterns of brain activity will provide insight into common everyday experiences as well asemotion/cognition interactions associated with individual differences in personality traits that might be relatedto current or future depressive episodes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-H (10))
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University of Colorado at Boulder
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