Neural correlates of cognitive reappraisal of positive and negative affect in older adults

Kameko Halfmann, William Hedgcock, Natalie L. Denburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: Compromised regulation of negative and positive emotions is a common feature of psychopathology. Healthy aging relates to changes in affective processing, but older adults’ regulation of positive affect is less well understood than regulation of negative affect. We examined the cognitive reappraisal of positive and negative affect in healthy younger and older adults, and the neural correlates of reappraisal among older adults. Method: Participants viewed negative, positive, and neutral IAPS images and were instructed to attend or reappraise their affective response. Younger and older adults (N = 31) in the behavioral pilot were asked to report on their affect after each image. Another group of older adults (N = 19) completed the same task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. Results: Behaviorally, older adults were less effective than young adults at downregulating negative and positive affect. Older adults showed engagement of cognitive control regions when regulating negative affect, but not positive affect. Older adults showed increased, rather than decreased, activation in emotion appraisal regions when reappraising negative affect. Discussion: These results may suggest that older adults are less engaged with negative stimuli; however, future work is needed to address several limitations such as a limited sample size. In addition, we recommend future researchers expand on this work examining regulation of both positive and negative affect among older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-133
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 26 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Dana Foundation Program in Brain and Immuno-Imaging Grant to NLD and a Graduate and Professional Student Government Research Grant to KH.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Age
  • cognitive reappraisal
  • emotion regulation
  • fMRI
  • positive affect


Dive into the research topics of 'Neural correlates of cognitive reappraisal of positive and negative affect in older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this