Physiological correlates of emotional reactivity and regulation in early adolescents

Melissa D. Latham, Nina Cook, Julian G. Simmons, Michelle L. Byrne, Jonathan W.L. Kettle, Orli Schwartz, Nandita Vijayakumar, Sarah Whittle, Nicholas B. Allen

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Few studies have examined physiological correlates of emotional reactivity and regulation in adolescents, despite the occurrence in this group of significant developmental changes in emotional functioning. The current study employed multiple physiological measures (i.e., startle-elicited eyeblink and ERP, skin conductance, facial EMG) to assess the emotional reactivity and regulation of 113 early adolescents in response to valenced images. Reactivity was measured while participants viewed images, and regulation was measured when they were asked to discontinue or maintain their emotional reactions to the images. Adolescent participants did not exhibit fear-potentiated startle blink. However, they did display affect-consistent zygomatic and corrugator activity during reactivity, as well as inhibition of some of these facial patterns during regulation. Skin conductance demonstrated arousal dependent activity during reactivity, and overall decreases during regulation. These findings suggest that early adolescents display reactivity to valenced pictures, but not to startle probes. Psychophysiological patterns during emotion regulation indicate additional effort and/or attention during the regulation process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-238
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Emotion regulation
  • Event relatedpotentials
  • Facial muscle activity
  • Skin conductance
  • Startle blink reflex

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