Neural underpinnings of the relationships between sensation seeking and emotion regulation in adolescents

Xinmei Deng, Lin Zhang
Published Online:
27 Dec 2019

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There is little neurological evidence linking sensation seeking and emotion regulation in adolescence, which is characterised as an emotionally fluctuant period. The present study examined the relationship between sensation seeking and emotion regulation in adolescents. Electroencephalograms were recorded from 22 high sensation‐seeking adolescents (HSSs, Mage = 12.36) and 24 low sensation‐seeking adolescents (LSSs, Mage = 12.84) during the reactivity and regulation‐image task. Group differences in event‐related brain potentials (ERPs) associated with the regulation of negative and neutral stimuli were analysed. The results showed that (a) the P2 of HSSs were larger than LSSs during emotion regulation; (b) in down‐regulation conditions, the LPP in all time windows were smaller than no‐regulation in LSSs. However, there was no significant difference in HSSs; (c) the LPP 300–600 and LPP 1000–1500 of down‐regulation were smaller in LSSs than HSSs; (d) for LPP 600–1000, HSSs induced larger LPP than LSSs in the negative down‐regulation and negative no‐regulation conditions. The results provide neurological evidence that higher sensation seeking is related to the high reactivity to emotional stimuli and poor cognitive control during the regulation of emotions.

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