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Cognitive reappraisal capacity mediates the relationship between prefrontal recruitment during reappraisal of anger-eliciting events and paranoia-proneness

Corinna M Perchtold, Elisabeth M Weiss, Christian Rominger, Andreas Fink, Hannelore Weber, Ilona Papousek
Brain and Cognition 2019 April 10, 132: 108-117
30980988
Difficulties in emotion regulation, particularly in using adaptive regulation strategies such as cognitive reappraisal, are a commonly observed correlate of paranoia. While it has been suggested that poor implementation of cognitive reappraisal in dealing with aversive events precedes the onset of subclinical paranoid thinking, there is little empirical research on neural activation patterns during cognitive reappraisal efforts that might indicate vulnerability towards paranoid thinking. Prefrontal EEG alpha asymmetry changes were recorded while n = 57 participants were generating alternative appraisals of anger-eliciting events, and were linked to a behavioral measure of basic cognitive reappraisal capacity and self-reported paranoia proneness (assessed by personality facets of hostility and suspiciousness; Personality Inventory for DSM-5). Mediation analysis revealed that less left-lateralized activation at ventrolateral prefrontal sites during reappraisal efforts predicted a higher degree of paranoia proneness. This relationship was mediated through poorer cognitive reappraisal capacity. Matching previous evidence, findings suggest that inappropriate brain activation during reappraisal efforts impairs individuals' capacity to come up with effective alternative interpretations for anger-evoking situations, which may accentuate personality features related to increased paranoid thinking. The findings add to our understanding of neurally underpinned impairments in the capacity to generate cognitive reappraisals and their link to maladaptive personality and behavior.

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