Friday, March 1, 2024
What do we learn about emotions from neural decoding studies?
The Brain Basis of Emotion: A Category Construction Problem
Scientists seek to uncover conclusions about the world that exist beyond the means of discovery. Psychological scientists know how challenging this goal can be. In this talk, I’ll critically assess the evidence from decoding studies suggesting emotions are categorically represented in the brain. I propose that such conclusions may depend on the methodologies employed in these studies.
Neuroimaging Reveals Distributed Brain Representations of Emotion Categories
Humans effortlessly categorize and label emotional experiences. However, the neural processes that underlie emotion remain contentious. Framing neuroimaging as a pattern recognition problem clarifies how brain states reflect distinct aspects of emotion. In this talk, I will present evidence that representations of emotion are distributed across brain systems and enable inferences about human behavior across individuals and studies.
Saturday, March 2, 2024
Best Dissertation in Affective Science Award
Interpersonal Emotion Regulation in Depression: Characteristics, Benefits, and Implications
People with major depressive disorder (MDD) have difficulty regulating emotion on their own. It is important to examine whether these difficulties extend to how they utilize social resources to regulate emotion, or interpersonal emotion regulation (IER). My research focuses on everyday IER among adults with depressive psychopathology using experience sampling. The findings shed light on the characteristics and utility of everyday IER in those with MDD.
Reverse-Engineering Human Emotion Understanding
Human emotion understanding can show remarkable sophistication and also dramatic limitations. Situating emotion concepts in a Bayesian Theory of Mind reveals that these seemingly irreconcilable characteristics share common mechanisms. I show how probabilistic programs can reverse-engineer emotion understanding, simultaneously generating insight into the human mind and tools for building social AI.
Early-Career in Affective Science Award
Jonathan Stange, University of Southern California
Intensively Sampling the Physiology of Affect Regulation to Inform Mechanisms and Intervention Targets in Everyday Life
Affect regulation and physiological flexibility often are disrupted in affective disorders. This talk will highlight recent work demonstrating how physiology changes in the moments before affective distress, and how physiology responds to regulation in everyday life. These methods can shine light on potential mechanisms of affect dysregulation, with implications for novel intervention targets.
Mid-Career Trajectory in Affective Science Award
Dissecting the Caregiving System: A Closer Look at the Effect of Prosocial Behavior on Emotion, Well-Being, and Health
Humans and other mammalian species will go to great lengths to engage in prosocial behaviors, helping others even when it comes at a cost to themselves. While these types of other-focused behaviors can seem surprising to some, they are thought to be deeply rooted in the mammalian caregiving system, which serves to prioritize the needs of offspring. In this talk, I will explore some of the interesting consequences of the mammalian caregiving system, which reinforces these other-focused behaviors. First, I will show that engaging in prosocial behavior activates neural regions that also play a role in both reward and caregiving behavior and serve to reinforce this behavior. Second, based on the ability of the caregiving system to attenuate threat-responses in the caregiver, I will explore the ability of prosocial behavior to reduce stress responding in the caregiver and the consequences of such effects for physical and mental health. Finally, I will discuss some of the more nuanced experiential differences between prosocial reward and other types of self-focused reward and highlight future directions to disentangle these rewarding experiences.