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Our research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Using technology to regulate affect: a multidisciplinary perspective 

Our aim through this project is to develop and evaluate new and innovative vibrotactile technologies that assist individuals with affect regulation. A unique aspect of our contribution comes from the interdisciplinarity of our team. Included on our team are experts in emotion regulation, haptics, electrical engineering, HCI, and distributed systems, as well as experts in the clinical application of biofeedback. We believe that such an interdisciplinary approach is necessary for making progress in the development of technology that assists in affect regulation. To learn more about the specific projects please visit our page.

The neural bases of cognitive reappraisal

This project examines the neural bases of one important form of emotion regulation, namely reappraisal, which involves altering the emotional significance of a stimulus by changing how one thinks about that stimulus. Using fMRI measures of brain activation, this project tests hypotheses concerning specific prefrontal regions thought to be associated with cognitive control, as well as specific subcortical structures such as the amygdala, thought to be associated with emotion.

The coherence of emotion

One major postulate of many contemporary theories of emotion is that emotion imposes coherence across multiple response systems (e.g., experiential, behavioral, and physiological). Surprisingly, few studies have tested this core hypothesis, and those that have done so have yielded mixed results. In this project, we are obtaining continuous measures of emotion experience, expression, and physiology, and examining the conditions under which responses coherence is evident.

Emotion regulation of mixed emotions

This project studies emotion regulation in the context of emotionally ambiguous cues. Stimuli are often not univocal, clear, and well defined regarding their emotional meaning, but are rather under-determined and ambivalent. To better understand the regulatory strategies that influence the responses to situations that may elicit mixed emotional feelings, we systematically elicit such feelings in the lab. One goal of this project is to discern how different emotion regulation strategies alter the emotional response to ambiguous situations.

Temporal dynamics of emotion generation and regulation

This project uses psychophysiological methods to examine how the processes involved in emotion generation and regulation unfold over time. The central assumption guiding this line of research is that the temporal features of such processes can inform our understanding of how they operate, as well as how they may be rendered dysfunctional in certain forms of psychopathology.

Sleep, emotion, and emotion regulation

This project aims to understand how our daytime emotional experiences impact sleep, and how sleep influences next-day emotional experiences. In particular, we are studying the relationship between emotion regulation capability and sleep. We use a variety of methods including ecological momentary assessments, behavioral tasks, actigraphy, polysomnography, psychophysiology, EEG, and fMRI to capture the dynamics of emotions and sleep in the laboratory and out in the world during people's daily lives. We hope to understand specific deficits in emotion regulation related to poor sleep and develop interventions to improve both sleep and mood.

Affect variation across the wake-sleep cycle

We experience affect across the wake-sleep cycle—from active wakefulness to resting wakefulness (mind-wandering or daydreaming) to night-time dreaming. However, despite a large amount of research on waking affect, we know very little about the continuity of affective experiences across the different states of consciousness. In this project, we aim to understand how affective experiences during active wakefulness (when we are engaged in particular tasks or responding to external stimuli) are associated with the affective quality of mind-wandering (when we are engaged in task-unrelated or stimulus-independent experiences) and dreaming (when we are sleeping but engaged in internally-generated experiences). We use a variety of methos to address these questions, such as self-report questionnaires, ecological momentary assessment (EMA or ESM), natural language processing, behavioral experiments, and electrophysiological (EEG/ERP) recordings.

Emotion regulation of sleep and dreaming

It has been suggested that not only sleep but also dreaming (the subjective experiences we have during sleep) is involved in emotion regulation, that is, dream experiences not only reflect waking experiences but are actively modulate our emotional experiences during wakefulness. However, studies directly testing this proposal are scarce. Here, we aim to understand how emotions experienced during dreaming are associated with emotional reactivity and emotion regulation in wakefulness. To this end, we use methods, such as self-report questionnaires, ecological momentary assessment (EMA or ESM), qualitative analysis, natural language processing, behavioral experiments, home-based sleep monitoring devices, and electrophysiological (EEG/ERP) recordings,

Peace of mind and emotion regulation

Peace of mind (PoM) is an aspect of well-being characterized by inner peace and harmony (with oneself, the others, and the surrounding environment). Although people consider inner peace and harmony central to their well-being, PoM has been largely unexplored. In this project, we strive to understand (1) the psychological and neural mechanisms underlying PoM to determine to what extent it can be explained by adaptive emotion regulation; and (2) to develop and test interventions aimed at enhancing PoM. To address these questions, we use methods, such as self-report questionnaires, behavioural experiments, and electrophysiological (EEG/ERP) recordings.

Transformative experiences

Transformative experiences are experiences that occur during non-ordinary states of consciousness. These experiences are not only impactful but also have the potential to bring about profound shifts in well-being, beliefs, world-views, and core values. Notably, these include psychedelic experiences. Here, we strive to understand the transformative power of psychedelic experiences and what aspect of these experiences—specific emotions (such as awe), insight--explains changes in well-being. To this end, we use self-report questionnaires, qualitative analysis, and natural language processing.