Effects Of Brief And Prolonged Emotion On Cognitive And Neural Processes Across Development
MetadataShow full item record
Emotional experiences are pervasive in everyday life and can influence our thoughts and actions. Dysregulation of cue triggered emotions and emotional mood states are core features of several mental illnesses, such as anxiety and mood disorders, that peak in prevalence during adolescence— a time of heightened sensitivity to social and emotional cues in the environment. During this period of development, emergence of exploratory and criminal behaviors is reflected in the “age-crime curve” whereby these behaviors emerge during the teen years and subsequently decline by the mid-twenties. Often when young people come in contact with the law, it is under emotionally charged situations, further highlighting the importance of understanding the impact of emotions on brain and behavior across development. We developed a novel behavioral paradigm for use with functional MRI to examine the impact of emotions on cognitive control and the neural circuitry. We incorporated brief and sustained positive and negative emotional states to distinguish effects of arousal versus valence. We first tested for dissociable effects of both positive and negative emotional cues and states on cognitive performance and neural processes. We find that in adults, brief emotional triggers or cues, whether positive or negative, similarly influence cognitive control. In contrast, sustained emotional states differentially impact cognitive control. Specifically, positive states enhance performance while negative state diminishes performance. Behavioral differences were paralleled by differential recruitment of fronto-parietal and fronto-striatal circuitry. Central to our primary question, we next examined the impact of these emotions on behavior and brain during the transition from adolescence to adulthood, in teens 13 to 17, young adults 18 to 21, and over 21 years-old. We show protracted development of cognitive control in both brief and prolonged potentially threatening situations into the early twenties. This behavioral pattern was paralleled by developmental changes in prefrontal circuitry. The question remains as to how reactivity to emotional information during adolescence may impacts subsequent memory for this information. We show preliminary evidence that temporal dynamics of memory processes may be changing across development. Together these studies begin to dissociate complex influences of emotions on behavioral and neural processes across development and how they may differentially lead to changes in behavior and actions.
Doctor of Philosophy
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
dissertation or thesis
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International