The Emotional Regulation Task (ERT) assesses an individual's ability to regulate emotions. Specifically, this task is designed to elicit both positive and negative emotional states in order to examine participants’ abilities to increase positive, and decrease negative, emotions in real-time. During the task participants view negative (e.g., mutilation, crying person), positive (e.g., flowers, puppies), and neutral pictures (e.g., a blow dryer, a fire hydrant) selected from an often-used and well-validated repository of images (the International Affective Picture System; IAPS). At a baseline visit, participants are trained to regulate their emotions in response to each image according to one of three instruction words: (1) “increase” (think about the picture in a way that increases the intensity of their emotions), (2) “decrease” (think about the image in a way that reduces the intensity of their emotions), or (3) “watch” (view the pictures without deliberately attempting to regulate emotions). At follow-up visits, participants are asked if they remember each emotion regulation strategy (reminders are given, when necessary), and then complete a task of 45 trials during a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan. Each trial is comprised of a white fixation cross (750 ms), followed by a photograph (2750 ms), and a prompt superimposed on the image, instructing participant to “increase,” “decrease,” or “watch” (1500 ms). The superimposed word is then removed and the image remains (7250 ms). During this time the participant tries to regulate his or her emotion as instructed. At the end of each trial the participant is given 3000ms to rate the subjective intensity of the emotion they are experiencing from 1, weak, to 4, strong. Images and instructions represent nine iterations of five conditions: (1) decrease negative, (2) watch negative, (3) increase positive, (4) watch positive, and (5) watch neutral (this condition is included to control for image viewing and button pressing so as to isolate the effects of emotion reactivity and emotional regulation processes from perceptual and motor processes). The task yields a total of eight self-reported and neurobiological measures related to emotional processing. Four subjective emotion-related measures are computed using self-reported emotional intensity scores: (1) positive emotional reactivity: average for watch-positive trials minus average for watch-neutral trials, (2) negative emotional reactivity: average for watch-negative trials minus average for watch-neutral trials, (3) ability to up-regulate positive emotion: average for increase-positive trials minus average for watch-positive trials, and (4) ability to down-regulate negative emotion: average for watch-negative trials minus decrease-negative trials. Using the fMRI data, four neurobiological emotion-related measures are derived. Two are taken from activation patterns in a positive affective circuit of brain regions (nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental areas, and white-matter projections from these two regions of the striatum to the orbitofrontal cortex, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex): (1) positive emotional reactivity: contrast for watch-positive vs. watch-neutral trials, and (2) ability to up-regulate positive emotion: contrast for increase-positive vs. watch-positive trials. The remaining two are computed using activation patterns in a negative affective circuit of brain regions (amygdala, insula, and anterior cingulate cortex/ventral and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex): (3) negative emotional reactivity: contrast for watch-negative vs. watch-neutral trials, and (4) ability to down-regulate negative emotion: contrast for watch-negative vs. decrease-negative trials.
Using self-reported outcomes and fMRI data, the Emotional Regulation Task (ERT) assesses the neural correlates involved with changing one’s emotional reactions to positive and negative stimuli. Deliberately strengthening and weakening the intensity of positive and negative emotions has been found to alter our perception of an emotional event, impact our decision-making, and consequently influence changes in behavior (Dolan, 2002; Kim and Hamann, 2007).
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Text Citation: Dolan, R.J. (2002). Emotion, Cognition, and Behavior. Science, 298(5596), 1191-1194.
Text Citation: Kim, S.H., Hamann, S. (2007). Neural correlates of positive and negative emotion regulation. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 19(5), 776-798.
This measure has not been measured yet.
This measure has not been influenced yet.
This measure has not been validated yet.
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The Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program seeks to promote basic research on the initiation, personalization and maintenance of behavior change. By integrating work across disciplines, this effort will lead to an improved understanding of the underlying principles of behavior change. The SOBC program aims to implement a mechanisms-focused, experimental medicine approach to behavior change research and to develop the tools required to implement such an approach. The experimental medicine approach involves: identifying an intervention target, developing measures to permit verification of the target, engaging the target through experimentation or intervention, and testing the degree to which target engagement produces the desired behavior change.
Within the SOBC Measures Repository, researchers have access to measures of mechanistic targets that have been (or are in the processing of being) validated by SOBC Research Network Members and other experts in the field. The SOBC Validation Process includes three important stages of evaluation for each proposed measure: Identification, Measurement, and Influence.
The first stage of validation requires a measure to be Identified within the field; there must be theoretical support for the specific measure of the proposed mechanistic target or potential mechanism of behavior change. This evidence may include references for the proposed measure, or theoretical support for the construct that the proposed measure is intended to assess. The second stage of validation requires demonstration that the level and change in level of the chosen mechanistic target can be Measured with the proposed measure (assay). For example, if the proposed measure is a questionnaire, the score on the measure should indicate the activity of the target process, and it must have strong psychometric properties. The third stage of validation requires demonstration that the measure can be Influenced; there must be evidence that the measured target is malleable and responsive to manipulation. Evidence relating to each stage includes at least one peer-reviewed publication or original data presentation (if no peer-reviewed research is available to support the claim) and is evaluated by SOBC Research Network Members and experts in the field.
Once a measure has gone through these three stages, it will then either be Validated or Not validated according to SOBC Research Network standards. If a measure is Validated, then change in the measured target was reliably associated with Behavior Change. If a measure is Not validated, then change in the measured target was not reliably associated with Behavior Change. Why would we share measures that are not validated? The SOBC Research Network values open, rigorous, and transparent research. Our goal is to make meaningful progress and develop replicable and effective interventions in behavior change science. Therefore, the SOBC sees value in providing other researchers in the field with information regarding measures that work and measures that fall short for specific targets. Further, a measure that is not validated for one target in one population may be validated in another target or population.
Want to learn more? For any questions regarding the SOBC Validation Process or Measures Repository, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has the mechanism been identified as a potential target for behavior change? This section summarizes theoretical support for the mechanism.
Have the psychometric properties of this measure been assessed? This section includes information such as content validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability.
Has a study manipulation led to change in the mechanism? This section addresses evidence that this measure is modifiable by experimental manipulation or clinical intervention.
Has a change in this mechanism been associated with behavior change? This section addresses empirical evidence that causing change in the measure reliably produces subsequent behavior change.