In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Neuroscience of Emotion Regulation

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Individual Differences in Emotion Regulation
  • Clinical Disorders
  • Interventions

Psychology The Neuroscience of Emotion Regulation
Bryan Denny, Eva Dicker, Pauline Goodson
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 February 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0309


Effective emotion regulation is indispensable for mental and physical health. In recent decades, vast progress has been made in elucidating the neural mechanisms that underlie emotion regulation and in relating these neural mechanisms to other levels of analysis (e.g., self-reported experience and behavior). This work has shown that particular emotion regulation strategies differ in the psychological and neural mechanisms through which they operate as well as their adaptiveness and fit to particular contexts and individuals. In this guide, we aim to provide an overview of the literature on the neuroscience of emotion regulation. We will first provide general overviews of the field, including undergirding appraisal-based theoretical frameworks for understanding emotion and emotion regulation and their neural correlates. We will then move to reviewing the literature on the psychological and neural correlates of implementing particular emotion regulation strategies. We will then review the literature on the importance of individual differences and situational context in understanding the neuroscience of emotion regulation. Next, we will review the neuroscience of emotion regulation in clinical disorders. Finally, we will review emotion regulation training interventions as well as review interdisciplinary approaches between emotion regulation, affective neuroscience, and related fields (e.g., developmental neuroscience and psychoneuroimmunology).

General Overviews

These articles provide a general overview of the neuroscience of emotion regulation. Gross 1998 and Gross 2015 describe a process model of emotion regulation that has provided a useful theoretical framework for subsequent neuroscience research. Barrett, et al. 2014 provides an additional theoretical framework describing emotion regulation in terms of psychological constructionism. Berkman and Lieberman 2009 further provides a framework for examining both intentional and incidental forms of emotion regulation. Doré, et al. 2016 provides a framework for the examination of personalized emotion regulation. In addition, Etkin, et al. 2015; Ochsner and Gross 2005; Ochsner and Gross 2014; and Ochsner, et al. 2012 review and synthesize neuroimaging studies of emotion regulation to describe models for the functional neural architecture of emotion regulation. Finally, Wang, et al. 2021 provides important cross-cultural examination of adaptive emotion regulation interventions to combat stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Barrett, L. F., C. D. Wilson-Mendenhall, and L. W. Barsalou. 2014. A psychological construction account of emotion regulation and dysregulation: The role of situated conceptualizations. In Handbook of emotion regulation. 2d ed. Edited by J. J. Gross, 447–465. New York: Guilford Press.

    Reviews affective science and affective neuroscience work to propose that the process of emotion regulation involves shifting among situated conceptualizations, which involve making meaning of a situation in terms of current goals.

  • Berkman, E. T., and M. D. Lieberman. 2009. Using neuroscience to broaden emotion regulation: Theoretical and methodological considerations. Social and Personality Psychology Compass 3.4: 475–493.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00186.x

    Reviews incidental as well as intentional forms of emotion regulation and provides a framework for future research.

  • Doré, B. P., J. A. Silvers, and K. N. Ochsner. 2016. Toward a personalized science of emotion regulation. Social and Personality Psychology Compass 10.4: 171–187.

    DOI: 10.1111/spc3.12240

    The authors provide a framework for examining personalized emotion regulation that depends on the interaction of person, situation, and strategy factors.

  • Etkin, A., C. Büchel, and J. J. Gross. 2015. The neural bases of emotion regulation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 16.11: 693–700.

    DOI: 10.1038/nrn4044

    Provides a unified conceptual framework for understanding emotion regulation by drawing on computational approaches to value-based decision making and reinforcement learning. Describes neural bases of both model-based and model-free emotion regulation.

  • Gross, J. J. 1998. The emerging field of emotion regulation: An integrative review. Review of General Psychology 2.3: 271–299.

    DOI: 10.1037/1089-2680.2.3.271

    An integral review that describes the widely utilized process model of emotion regulation. Gross further discusses how emotion regulation relates to subdisciplines of psychology.

  • Gross, J. J. 2015. Emotion regulation: Current status and future prospects. Psychological Inquiry 26.1: 1–26.

    DOI: 10.1080/1047840X.2014.940781

    Gross provides a review of emotion regulation in the context of the process model and introduces the extended process model of emotion regulation. The extended process model describes a valuation-based account of emotion regulation and delineates three key stages (identification, selection, and implementation).

  • Ochsner, K. N., and J. Gross. 2005. The cognitive control of emotion. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9.5: 242–249.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2005.03.010

    This review of functional imaging studies of emotion regulation describes functional interactions between prefrontal and cingulate control systems and emotion-generative systems to propose a functional neural architecture for the cognitive control of emotion.

  • Ochsner, K. N., and J. J. Gross. 2014. The neural bases of emotion and emotion regulation: A valuation perspective. In Handbook of emotion regulation. 2d ed. Edited by J. J. Gross, 23–42. New York: Guilford Press.

    This chapter within a larger handbook on emotion regulation takes a valuation perspective, whereby emotion regulation is understood as one type of valuation (i.e., assigning positive or negative value to situations and stimuli in our midst) that seeks to influence the experience of emotion, which is itself valuation-based. Evidence for the neural bases of emotion and emotion regulation are reviewed within this framework.

  • Ochsner, K. N., J. A. Silvers, and J. T. Buhle. 2012. Functional imaging studies of emotion regulation: A synthetic review and evolving model of the cognitive control of emotion. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1251:E1–E24.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06751.x

    This article describes a functional neural model for the cognitive control of emotion, integrating neuroimaging evidence from studies on emotion generation and emotion regulation.

  • Wang, K., A. Goldenberg, C. A. Dorison, et al. 2021. A multi-country test of brief reappraisal interventions on emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature Human Behaviour 5.8: 1089–1110.

    DOI: 10.1038/s41562-021-01173-x

    This study observed differences in positive and negative affect reports during COVID-19 when participants were instructed to use different reappraisal techniques compared to controls. Participants who engaged in any reappraisal intervention versus controls reported reduced negative affect and increased positive affect across countries.

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