Everyday life is filled with events that evoke emotional highs and lows—like celebrating a friend’s birthday, getting cut off in traffic, or even stubbing a toe. Amid all these ups and downs, how do we remain clear-headed in our judgments?
Remarkably, feelings about one situation rarely color our first impressions of new people or situations that we encounter soon afterward. We seem to have a built-in regulatory mechanism to protect us from this “emotional spillover,” and a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science explored a specific brain area that might be responsible.
Would disrupting the region of the brain known to be involved in controlling impulsive urges lead people’s emotions to cloud their judgments more than usual?
This region is known to be involved in controlling our impulsive urges, like when we choose healthier food over junk food. Disruption of the lPFC, either by TMS or by brain damage, leads people to have less self-control and to be more influenced by their environment. Now the question was: Would disrupting the lPFC lead people’s emotions to cloud their judgments more than usual? Researchers Regina Lapate, Richard Davidson, and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recruited 27…