Speaker: Dr. Mark Fenskem University of Guelph
Title: Neurocognitive inhibition has social, emotional, and motivational consequences (that may be clinically relevant).
Location: PAS 2083
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. with a reception to follow in PAS 3005
Our day-to-day survival depends on specific neurocognitive mechanisms that prioritize the possible targets of our thoughts and actions. Of these, emotion-related processes are particularly important for signaling what is beneficial and should be approached, and what is potentially problematic and should be avoided. While there is a long history of research into brain-based responses to salient external triggers— snakes, angry faces etc.—it is becoming clear that there are important yet less obvious sources of internally-generated affect. Originating from mental operations, such as those involved in cognitive control, these affective signals provide important feedback related to ongoing performance. But they also alter our evaluations of associated stimuli and the choices we make, and thereby have important implications for our understanding of the determinants of human behaviour. Growing evidence from my lab and others has shown that one cognitive-control mechanism in particular— inhibition—appears to elicit distinctly negative affective responses that alter stimulus value. Prior inhibition negatively impacts various subjective evaluations of a wide variety of stimuli: from how much we like meaningless patterns and common objects to feelings of trust, attraction and sexual arousal when viewing human faces and bodies. Inhibition also decreases the motivational incentive to seek and obtain what would otherwise be highly appealing, including food, sex, and drugs. This suggests that inhibition-based tasks may have potentially important clinical applications. Our findings regarding the basic characteristics, neural correlates, and physiological manifestations of the affective consequences of inhibition support theoretical views that posit a fundamental integration of emotion and cognitive-control.