Kevin N Ochsner

Kevin N Ochsner
Columbia University | CU · Department of Psychology

About

195
Publications
85,977
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
37,012
Citations

Publications

Publications (195)
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of great uncertainty for the general population and highlights the need to understand how attitudes towards uncertainty may affect well-being. Intolerance of uncertainty is a trait associated with worry, anxiety, and mood disorders. As adaptive emotion regulation supports well-being and mental health, it is pos...
Article
Background Efficient processing of complex and dynamic social scenes relies on intact connectivity of many underlying cortical areas and networks, but how connectivity anomalies affect the neural substrates of social perception remains unknown. Here we measure these relationships using functionally based localization of social perception areas, res...
Article
Introduction Craving is an important contributing factor in cigarette smoking and has been added as a diagnostic criterion for addiction in the DSM-5. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and other treatments that incorporate craving regulation strategies reduce smoking and the likelihood of relapse. Although this finding suggests that the regulation of cr...
Preprint
Background: Efficient processing of complex and dynamic social scenes relies on intact connectivity of many underlying cortical areas and networks, but how connectivity deficits affect this functioning in social cognition remains unknown. Here we measure these relationships using functionally based localization of social cognition areas, resting-st...
Article
Schizophrenia is associated with marked impairments in social cognition. However, the neural correlates of these deficits remain unclear. Here we use naturalistic stimuli to examine the role of the right temporoparietal junction/posterior superior temporal sulcus (TPJ-pSTS)—an integrative hub for the cortical networks pertinent to the understanding...
Article
Full-text available
Friends and therapists often encourage people in distress to say how they feel (i.e., name their emotions) with the hope that identifying their emotions will help them cope. Although lay and some psychological theories posit that emotion naming should facilitate subsequent emotion regulation, there is little research directly testing this question....
Article
Little is understood about how emotion regulation strategies typically used to regulate one's own emotions can be used to help others in distress, a process we refer to as social emotion regulation. We integrated research on social support, the self-regulation of emotion, and appraisal theories to hypothesize that different kinds of support and emo...
Article
Mindfulness training ameliorates clinical and self-report measures of depression and chronic pain, but its use as an emotion regulation strategy - in individuals who do not meditate - remains understudied. As such, whether it (a) down-regulates early affective brain processes and (b) depends on cognitive control systems remains unclear. We exposed...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ability to search for and detect social cues, such as facial expressions of emotion, is critical to the understanding of complex dynamic social situations. This ability involves the coordinated actions of multiple cognitive domains, including face-emotion processing, mentalization, and visual attention. Individuals with schizophrenia are genera...
Chapter
Imagine that you have just moved across the country to take a job as a professor at a new and exciting university. Beyond all the usual pragmatic hassles, like organizing the move, finding a place to live, and so on, perhaps the biggest challenges you will face are social and emotional. How you adaptively respond to these challenges will go a long...
Article
Cultural norms for the experience, expression, and regulation of emotion vary widely between individualistic and collectivistic cultures. Collectivistic cultures value conformity, social harmony, and social status hierarchies, which demand sensitivity and focus to broader social contexts, such that attention is directed to contextual emotion inform...
Article
Full-text available
In the United States over one-third of the population, including children and adolescents, are overweight or obese. Despite the prevalence of obesity, few studies have examined how food cravings and the ability to regulate them change throughout development. Here, we addressed this gap in knowledge by examining structural brain and behavioral chang...
Chapter
Being able to flexibly regulate one's emotions is critical for adaptive functioning across the life span. The importance of emotion regulation for human cognition has been reflected in the marked increase in the amount of psychologic research on emotion and its regulation in the past two decades. In this chapter, we review theoretical and empirical...
Article
Full-text available
An avoidant grief style is marked by repeated and often unsuccessful attempts to prevent thinking about loss. Prior work shows avoidant grief involves monitoring the external environment in order to avoid reminders of the loss. Here we sought to determine whether avoidant grievers also monitor the internal environment in attempts to minimize consci...
Article
A key survival skill is the ability to regulate your emotions so as to respond adaptively to life's challenges. As such, it is essential to understand how we can improve this ability through training. While this is still a new area of research, to date, behavioral and brain studies have taken one of two approaches: either training individuals to im...
Article
Full-text available
Moral judgment has typically been characterized as a conflict between emotion and reason. In recent years, a central concern has been determining which process is the chief contributor to moral behavior. While classic moral theorists claimed that moral evaluations stem from consciously controlled cognitive processes, recent research indicates that...
Article
Other people can profoundly affect one’s opinions and decisions. In the current study, we compared the effects of peer influence on responses to a primary reward—food—in both young adolescents and adults. Food is critical for survival, and in addition to its rewarding properties, habits and practices surrounding eating are heavily influenced by soc...
Article
Brain regions engaged during social inference, medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and tempoparietal junction (TPJ), are also known to spontaneously engage during rest. While this overlap is well known, the social cognitive function of engaging these regions during rest remains unclear. Building on past research suggesting that new information is commi...
Article
Full-text available
Why do certain group members end up liking each other more than others? How does affective reciprocity arise in human groups? The prediction of interpersonal sentiment has been a long-standing pursuit in the social sciences. We combined fMRI and longitudinal social network data to test whether newly acquainted group members’ reward-related neural r...
Chapter
This chapter describes the emotion regulation framework and illustrates how different combinations of emotion regulation goals and emotion change processes yield the four classes of emotion regulation strategies: explicit controlled, implicit automatic, implicit controlled, and explicit automatic. It reviews neural and behavioral features of each o...
Article
Background Dysregulated autobiographical recall is observed in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). However, it is unknown whether people with MDD show abnormalities in memory-, emotion- and control-related brain systems during reactivity to and regulation of negative autobiographical memories. Methods We used fMRI to identify neural mechanisms underl...
Article
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective for a substantial minority of patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD), but its mechanism of action at the neural level is not known. As core techniques of CBT seek to enhance emotion regulation, we scanned 31 MDD participants prior to 14 sessions of CBT using functional magnetic resona...
Poster
Full-text available
Despite the demonstrated link between emotion regulation and well-being, little is known about the emotional consequences of social emotion regulation. Following previous work, we predicted that self and social reappraisal training will reduce rumination. We also examined the link between trait empathy and training effectiveness.
Article
Full-text available
The ability to adaptively regulate emotion is essential for mental and physical well-being. How should we organize the myriad ways people attempt to regulate their emotions? We explore the utility of a framework that distinguishes among four fundamental classes of emotion regulation strategies. The framework describes each strategy class in terms t...
Article
COVER ILLUSTRATION:Marijuana users display impaired cognitive regulation of negative emotions paralleled by increased frontal activity and decreased amygdala-prefrontal connectivity.
Article
With depictions of others facing threats common in the media, the experience of vicarious anxiety may be prevalent in the general population. However, the phenomenon of vicarious anxiety—the experience of anxiety in response to observing others expressing anxiety—and the interpersonal mechanisms underlying it have not been fully investigated in pri...
Article
Effective regulation of negative affective states has been associated with mental health. Impaired regulation of negative affect represents a risk factor for dysfunctional coping mechanisms such as drug use and thus could contribute to the initiation and development of problematic substance use. This study investigated behavioral and neural indices...
Article
Functional magnetic resonance imaging and social network analysis show that on viewing familiar individuals in a small social network, the brain activates regions critical for inferring mental states and intentions, as well as regions associated with spatial navigation and psychological distance.
Article
Full-text available
Although much research considers how individuals manage their own emotions, less is known about the emotional benefits of regulating the emotions of others. We examined this topic in a 3-week study of an online platform providing training and practice in the social regulation of emotion. We found that participants who engaged more by helping others...
Article
Full-text available
Significance statement: Everyone experiences stressors, but how we respond to them can range from protracted disability to resilience and growth. One key process underlying this variability is the agentic decision to exert control over emotional responses. We present an fMRI-based model predicting decisions to control emotion, finding that activit...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Deceased-related thinking is central to grieving and potentially critical to processing of the loss. Self-report measurements might fail to capture important elements of deceased-related thinking and processing. Here, we used a machine learning approach applied to fMRI - known as neural decoding - to develop a measure of ongoing deceas...
Article
The demands of social life often require categorically judging whether someone's continuously varying facial movements express "calm" or "fear," or whether one's fluctuating internal states mean one feels "good" or "bad." In two studies, we asked whether this kind of categorical, "black and white," thinking can shape the perception and neural repre...
Article
Full-text available
Neuroimaging research has identified systems that facilitate minimizing negative emotion, but how the brain is able to transform the valence of an emotional response from negative to positive is unclear. Behavioral and psychophysiological studies suggest a distinction between minimizing reappraisal, which entails diminishing the arousal elicited by...
Article
Full-text available
The present neuroimaging study investigated two aspects of difficulties with emotion associated with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): affective lability and difficulty regulating emotion. While these two characteristics have been previously linked to BPD symptomology, it remains unknown whether individual differences in affective lability and...
Article
Full-text available
Can taking the perspective of other people modify our own affective responses to stimuli? To address this question, we examined the neurobiological mechanisms supporting the ability to take another person's perspective and thereby emotionally experience the world as they would. We measured participants' neural activity as they attempted to predict...
Article
Background: Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and substance use, yet many individuals break free of these patterns and change their behavior. Traditional candidate predictors of behavior change/persistence rely on self-reports of factors such as readiness to change. However, explicit measures only characterize top-down influenc...
Article
Understanding how and why affective responses change with age is central to characterizing typical and atypical emotional development. Prior work has emphasized the role of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex (PFC), which show age-related changes in function and connectivity. However, developmental neuroimaging research has only recently begun to un...
Article
Emotion regulation is a critical life skill that develops throughout childhood and adolescence. Despite this development in emotional processes, little is known about how the underlying brain systems develop with age. This study examined emotion regulation in 112 individuals (aged 6–23 years) as they viewed aversive and neutral images using a reapp...
Article
Emotion regulation is a critical life skill that can facilitate learning and improve educational outcomes. Developmental studies find that the ability to regulate emotion improves with age. In neuroimaging studies, emotion regulation abilities are associated with recruitment of a set of prefrontal brain regions involved in cognitive control and exe...
Article
Suicidal behavior and difficulty regulating emotions are hallmarks of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This study examined neural links between emotion regulation and suicide risk in BPD. 60 individuals with BPD (all female, mean age = 28.9 years), 46 of whom had attempted suicide, completed a fMRI task involving recalling aversive personal m...
Article
The present neuroimaging study investigated two aspects of difficulties with emotion associated with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): affective lability and difficulty regulating emotion. While these two characteristics have been previously linked to BPD symptomology, it remains unknown whether individual differences in affective lability and...
Article
Neuroscientific studies of social cognition typically employ paradigms in which perceivers draw single-shot inferences about the internal states of strangers. Real-world social inference features much different parameters: People often encounter and learn about particular social targets (e.g., friends) over time and receive feedback about when thei...
Article
Full-text available
In the aftermath of a national tragedy, important decisions are predicated on judgments of the emotional significance of the tragedy in the present and future. Research in affective forecasting has largely focused on ways in which people fail to make accurate predictions about the nature and duration of feelings experienced in the aftermath of an e...
Article
Research examining the neural basis of emotion regulation has expanded dramatically in recent years. In this article, we summarize major findings in this area, revealing that the brain mechanisms of emotion regulation consist chiefly of interactions between a set of emotion generation regions that support emotional responding and a set of domain-ge...
Article
Full-text available
Empathy and vicarious learning of fear are increasingly understood as separate phenomena, but the interaction between the two remains poorly understood. We investigated how social (vicarious) fear learning is affected by empathic appraisals by asking participants to either enhance or decrease their empathic responses to another individual (the demo...
Article
Differences in popularity are a key aspect of status in virtually all human groups and shape social interactions within them. Little is known, however, about how we track and neurally represent others' popularity. We addressed this question in two real-world social networks using sociometric methods to quantify popularity. Each group member (percei...
Article
Research in emotion regulation has largely focused on how people manage their own emotions, but there is a growing recognition that the ways in which we regulate the emotions of others also are important. Drawing on work from diverse disciplines, we propose an integrative model of the psychological and neural processes supporting the social regulat...
Article
Methamphetamine use has increased significantly and become a global health concern. Craving is known to predict methamphetamine use and relapse following abstinence. Some have suggested that cravings are automatic, generalized, and uncontrollable, but experimental work addressing these claims is lacking. In 2 exploratory studies, we tested the boun...
Article
Little is known about whether emotion regulation can have lasting effects on the ability of a stimulus to continue eliciting affective responses in the future. We addressed this issue in this study. Participants cognitively reappraised negative images once or four times, and then 1 week later, they passively viewed old and new images, so that we co...
Article
How do increasing temporal and spatial distance affect the emotions people feel and express in response to tragic events? Standard views suggest that emotional intensity should decrease but are silent on changes in emotional quality. Using a large Twitter data set, we identified temporal and spatial patterns in use of emotional and cognitive words...
Article
Full-text available
Within a week of the attack of September 11, 2001, a consortium of researchers from across the United States distributed a survey asking about the circumstances in which respondents learned of the attack (their flashbulb memories) and the facts about the attack itself (their event memories). Follow-up surveys were distributed 11, 25, and 119 months...
Article
Background Helping alcohol-dependent individuals to cope with, or regulate, cue-induced craving using cognitive strategies is a therapeutic goal of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for alcohol dependence. An assumption that underlies this approach is that alcohol dependence is associated with deficits in such cognitive regulation abilities. To da...
Article
This study used functional MRI (fMRI) to examine a novel aspect of emotion regulation in adolescent development: whether age predicts differences in both the concurrent and lasting effects of emotion regulation on amygdala response. In the first, active regulation, phase of the testing session, fMRI data were collected while 56 healthy individuals...
Article
Full-text available
Although recent research has begun to describe the neural and genetic processes underlying variability in responses to trauma, less is known about how these processes interact. We addressed this issue by using functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the relationship between posttraumatic stress symptomatology (PTSS), a common genetic polym...
Article
Although one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, developmental changes in food craving and the ability to regulate craving remain poorly understood. We addressed this knowledge gap by examining behavioral and neural responses to images of appetizing unhealthy foods in individuals ages 6 through 23 years. On close trials (asse...
Article
The ability to use cognitive reappraisal to regulate emotions is an adaptive skill in adulthood, but little is known about its development. Because reappraisal is thought to be supported by linearly developing prefrontal regions, one prediction is that reappraisal ability develops linearly. However, recent investigations into socio-emotional develo...
Article
Full-text available
One of the most effective strategies for regulating emotional responses is cognitive reappraisal. While prior work has made great strides in characterizing reappraisal’s neural mechanisms and behavioral outcomes, the key issue of how regulation varies as a function of emotional intensity remains unaddressed. We compared the behavioral and neural co...
Article
According to appraisal theories of emotion, cognitive reappraisal is a successful emotion regulation strategy because it involves cognitively changing our thoughts, which, in turn, change our emotions. However, recent evidence has challenged the importance of cognitive change and, instead, has suggested that attentional deployment may at least part...
Article
Full-text available
While numerous neuroimaging studies have examined what happens when individuals are instructed to regulate their emotions, we rarely receive such instruction in everyday life. The present study sought to examine what underlies uninstructed modulation of negative affect by examining neural responses when "responding naturally" to negative stimuli -...
Article
Although recent emotion regulation research has identified effective regulatory strategies that participants can employ during single experimental sessions, a critical but unresolved question is whether one can increase the efficacy with which one can deploy these strategies through repeated practice. To address this issue, we focused on one strate...
Article
Full-text available
The psychometric properties of 4 paradigms adapted from the social neuroscience literature were evaluated to determine their suitability for use in clinical trials of schizophrenia. This 2-site study (University of California, Los Angeles and University of North Carolina) included 173 clinically stable schizophrenia outpatients and 88 healthy contr...
Article
Full-text available
It is unknown whether measures adapted from social neuroscience linked to specific neural systems will demonstrate relationships to external variables. Four paradigms adapted from social neuroscience were administered to 173 clinically stable outpatients with schizophrenia to determine their relationships to functionally meaningful variables and to...
Article
Full-text available
Social cognitive impairment is prominent in schizophrenia, and it is closely related to functional outcome. Partly for these reasons, it has rapidly become a target for both training and psychopharmacological interventions. However, there is a paucity of reliable and valid social cognitive endpoints that can be used to evaluate treatment response i...
Article
Full-text available
People vary greatly in their dispositions to anxiously expect, readily perceive, and strongly react to social rejection (rejection sensitivity [RS]) with implications for social functioning and health. Here, we examined how RS influences learning about social threat. Using a classical fear conditioning task, we established that high compared to low...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, an explosion of neuroimaging studies has examined cognitive reappraisal, an emotion regulation strategy that involves changing the way one thinks about a stimulus in order to change its affective impact. Existing models broadly agree that reappraisal recruits frontal and parietal control regions to modulate emotional responding in...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: This study aimed to determine the relative extent of impairment in social and nonsocial cognitive domains in patients with bipolar disorder compared with schizophrenia patients and healthy comparison subjects. Methods: Sixty-eight clinically stable outpatients with bipolar disorder, 38 clinically stable outpatients with schizophrenia,...