High working memory load impairs the effect of cognitive reappraisal on emotional response: Evidence from an event-related potential study
This study investigates how the working memory (WM) load influenced the efficacy of cognitive reappraisal, a frequently used strategy for emotion regulation. In a dual-task paradigm, the participants were required to perform a high-load or a low-load memory task and simultaneously reappraise aversive pictures with a negative or a neutral meaning. In the low-load condition, we found that the amplitude of emotion-enhanced late positive potential (LPP) was significantly decreased by neutral reappraisal compared to negative reappraisal. In the high-load condition, this regulatory effect of reappraisal disappeared. These results suggest that successful reappraisal relies on cognitive resources and WM processes. If the necessary resources involved in reappraisal are over-depleted by a concurrent memory task, the reappraisal effect will be impaired. Moreover, we found that emotion-enhanced LPP was significant in both of the high-load and low-load tasks, which suggests that emotional electrocortical response may not be susceptible to the available resources.
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