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Reflection Rumination Reduces Negative Emotional Processing During Goal-Directed Behavior.

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Faculty Advisor: Dr. Max J. Owens

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Depression’s cost on society is estimated to rank 4th in the world, with symptoms that are disruptive, pervasive, and potentially deadly. The severity and length of depressive episodes are thought to reflect deficits in cognition, such as attentional biases related to inefficiencies within cognitive and emotional processing. Rumination is one such bias characterized by a repetitive focus on depression symptoms. A subcomponent of rumination, reflection is thought to represent an individual’s active analysis of their depressive symptoms in attempts to alleviate them, while the subcomponent brooding is an individual’s recycling of negative information. While research has explored the relationship between depression and emotional processing within goal-directed behavior, the extent to which individual differences in rumination contribute to these processes is not well understood. Utilizing a facial recognition delayed match to sample task, we recorded the activity of an emotional processing component labeled the LPP in response to negative, happy, and scrambled faces serving as distractors. Behaviorally, depression, brooding, and reflection scores did not significantly impact accuracy, however, a significant emotion by reflection interaction was observed. As reflection scores increased, LPP amplitudes for sad faces decreased relative to amplitudes for scrambled faces. Results suggest a goal directed decrease of negative emotional processing in reflection rumination. Without an accompanying change in task performance, this indicates that individuals utilizing reflection as an emotional processing strategy actively inhibit their emotional responses to maintain their performance. This increased effort utilized in the inhibition of these distractors reflects an inefficient use of cognitive resources for higher reflectors relative to that of their peers.

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Reflection Rumination Reduces Negative Emotional Processing During Goal-Directed Behavior.

Depression’s cost on society is estimated to rank 4th in the world, with symptoms that are disruptive, pervasive, and potentially deadly. The severity and length of depressive episodes are thought to reflect deficits in cognition, such as attentional biases related to inefficiencies within cognitive and emotional processing. Rumination is one such bias characterized by a repetitive focus on depression symptoms. A subcomponent of rumination, reflection is thought to represent an individual’s active analysis of their depressive symptoms in attempts to alleviate them, while the subcomponent brooding is an individual’s recycling of negative information. While research has explored the relationship between depression and emotional processing within goal-directed behavior, the extent to which individual differences in rumination contribute to these processes is not well understood. Utilizing a facial recognition delayed match to sample task, we recorded the activity of an emotional processing component labeled the LPP in response to negative, happy, and scrambled faces serving as distractors. Behaviorally, depression, brooding, and reflection scores did not significantly impact accuracy, however, a significant emotion by reflection interaction was observed. As reflection scores increased, LPP amplitudes for sad faces decreased relative to amplitudes for scrambled faces. Results suggest a goal directed decrease of negative emotional processing in reflection rumination. Without an accompanying change in task performance, this indicates that individuals utilizing reflection as an emotional processing strategy actively inhibit their emotional responses to maintain their performance. This increased effort utilized in the inhibition of these distractors reflects an inefficient use of cognitive resources for higher reflectors relative to that of their peers.

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