Clarifying the synergistic effects of emotion dysregulation and inhibitory control on physical aggression
Human Brain Mapping
Rising rates of violence underscore the need to better understand how systems that regulate distress and impulse control jointly modulate aggression risk. The goals of the current study were to investigate the unique and interactive effects of emotional dysregulation and inhibitory control on the perpetration of physical aggression. We recruited a high-risk community sample of 206 adults (M/SDage = 33.55/10.89 years old; 47.1% female) who reported a range of physically aggressive behaviors. All participants completed a self-report measure (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale), neuropsychological testing (Color Word Interference Test), and clinical interviewing (Lifetime History of Aggression Interview), and a subset of individuals (n = 134) underwent a neuroanatomical scan. As expected, the interplay of emotional and inhibitory control explained unique variance in physical aggression above and beyond their main effects. The positive association between emotion dysregulation and aggression strengthened as inhibitory control decreased. Cortical thickness in two right prefrontal clusters, one that peaked in the superior frontal gyrus and one that peaked in the caudal middle frontal gyrus, was also associated with the interactive effects of emotional dysregulation and inhibitory control. Notably, thickness in the superior frontal gyrus mediated the association between emotion dysregulation and physical aggression at low levels of inhibitory control. Using a multilevel and multimethod approach, the present study revealed neuroanatomical correlates of emotion–cognition interactions that have translational relevance to violence perpetration. These findings extend previous work primarily focused on functional-based neural assessments and point to the utility of examining neuroanatomical correlates of emotion–cognition interactions for understanding human aggression.
This article was originally published in Human Brain Mapping. The version of record is available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.26012
cognitive control, cortical thickness, emotion–cognition interactions, violence perpetration, peace, justice and strong institutions
Bounoua, N., Spielberg, J. M., & Sadeh, N. (2022). Clarifying the synergistic effects of emotion dysregulation and inhibitory control on physical aggression. Human Brain Mapping, 1– 12. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.26012