Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Mental imagery is a common component in a range of emotion regulation techniques. However, the effectiveness and neural mechanisms of regulation via mental imagery are underexplored due to a lack of studies targeting mental imagery specifically. This discrepancy results in uncertainty regarding the mechanism of regulation in existing paradigms. Biased competition for attentional resources presents a plausible model by which a mental imagery-based distracter can downregulate response to an emotional stimulus. If visualizing an imagined distracter effectively regulates emotional response, the inclusion of mental imagery components in other techniques represents a potential confound. To address this discrepancy, this dissertation investigates the effectiveness and neural correlates of mental imagery in the regulation of differentially conditioned fear. Results of this investigation indicate that mental imagery-based regulation is comparably effective to object-based distraction, but requires a greater investment of cognitive resources to perform. Furthermore, while neural mechanisms of this regulation are consistent with biased competition, mental imagery-based distraction demonstrates notable differences in neural correlates from those identified in object-based distraction. In conclusion, mental imagery represents both a distinct and effective technique in emotion regulation.



Committee Chair

Greening, Steven