How we manage emotional responses to environmental threats is central to mental health, as difficulties regulating threat-related distress can blossom into symptoms of anxiety disorders. Given that anxiety disorders emerge early in the lifespan, it is crucial we understand the multi-level processes that support effective regulation of distress. Scholars have given increased attention to behavioral and neural development of emotion regulation abilities, particularly cognitive reappraisal capacity (i.e., how strongly one can down-regulate negative affect by reinterpreting a situation to change one's emotions). However, this work has not been well integrated with research on regulatory tendency (i.e., how often one spontaneously regulates emotion in daily life). Here, we review research on the development of both emotion regulation capacity and tendency. We then propose a framework for testing hypotheses and eventually constructing a neurodevelopmental model of both dimensions of emotion regulation. Clarifying how the brain supports both effective and frequent regulation of threat-related distress across development is crucial to identifying multi-level signs of dysregulation and developing interventions that support youth mental health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Emotion regulation
- Frontolimbic circuitry
- Prefrontal cortex