Putting Feelings Into Words Examined In Brain Scans
Why does talking to a friend or writing in a journal make us feel better in troubled times? Simply naming an emotion does nothing to solve our problems, but often makes them feel less intense. A brain imaging study conducted by a group of UCLA psychologists has begun to reveal the neural basis for the relieving affects of mindfulness, the practice of naming or becoming aware of one's feelings in the present moment.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Matthew D. Lieberman, UCLA associate professor of psychology and a founder of social cognitive neuroscience and his research team showed that by putting a word to an emotion, for example, labeling it as anger or fear, served to calm the activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain associated with the fear response.
Thirty male and female participants viewed images various facial expressions accompanied by either two emotional descriptors, such as "angry" and "sad," or two names, such as "Harry" and "Sally," and were asked to name either the appropriate emotion or gender-specific name. When participants labeled the emotion, researchers saw a decreased response in the amygdala accompanied by increased activity in the prefontal cortex. This calming effect was not seen when participants chose names based on gender, however.
FULL TEXT: The Lasting Effect of Words on Feelings: Words May Facilitate Exposure Effects to Threatening Images (PDF)
Posted In: Cognitive Psychology |
Posted by FindCounseling.com Staff on July 11, 2007 at 11:52 AM | Permalink
This page contains a single entry from Psychology Briefs, the FindCounseling.com Blog.
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