Monitoring and deciding how to adjust an active regulatory strategy in order to maximize adaptive outcomes is an integral element of emotion regulation, yet existing evidence remains scarce. Filling this gap, the present study examined core factors that determine behavioral regulatory monitoring decisions and the neuro-affective consequences of these decisions. Using a novel paradigm, the initial implementation of central downregulation strategies (distraction, reappraisal) and the emotional intensity (high, low) were manipulated, prior to making a behavioral decision to maintain the initial implemented strategy or switch from it. Neuro-affective consequences of these behavioral decisions were evaluated using the Late Positive Potential (LPP), an electro-cortical measure of regulatory success. Confirming predictions, initial implementation of reappraisal in high intensity and distraction in low intensity (Strategy × Intensity combinations that were established in prior studies as non-preferred by individuals), resulted in increased behavioral switching frequency. Neurally, we expected and found that in high (but not low) emotional intensity, where distraction was more effective than reappraisal, maintaining distraction (relative to switching to reappraisal) and switching to distraction (relative to maintaining reappraisal) resulted in larger LPP modulation. These findings suggest that monitoring decisions are consistent with previously established regulatory preferences and are associated with adaptive short-term neural consequences.
- emotion regulation
- late positive potential