Attention and Emotion – The Development of Self-Regulation

Date:  Sunday, April 10, 2011
Speaker:  Lesa K. Ellis, Ph.D.

Lesa Ellis is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Westminster College. After obtaining her undergraduate degree at Westminster, she pursued her Ph.D. at the University of Oregon, where she specialized in studying adolescent brain development. She currently teaches a broad range of courses, including Cognitive Neuroscience, Adolescent Development, Psychopharmacology, and Sex in the Brain. She is currently in the beginning stages of a study investigating associations between genetic polymorphisms, attentional systems, and brain wave activity in college students.

“How do we control our emotions? How do we learn to suppress inappropriate emotions in order to function appropriately as adults? And why are some individuals unable to turn away from negative thoughts and emotions? Many researchers believe that it is the executive attention system that allows us to control our “inner space” and focus on the emotions and cognitions that best meet our adaptive needs. But this ability does not develop overnight. This presentation discusses the development of executive attention and its role in helping to regulate emotion at various developmental stages.”

 Speaker-Suggested References and Resources:
Ellis, L. K., Rothbart, M. K., & Posner, M. I. (2004). Individual differences in executive attention predict self-regulation and adolescent psychosocial behaviors. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021, 337-340.
Rothbart, M. K., Ellis, L. K., & Posner, M. I. (2004). Temperament and self-regulation.
In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications (pp. 357-370). New York : Guilford Press.
Rueda, M. R., Posner, M. I., & Rothbart, M. K. (2004). Attentional control and self-regulation.
In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications (pp. 283-300). New York : Guilford Press.
Rueda, M. R., Rothbart, M. K., McCandliss, Bruce D., Saccomanno, Lisa, and Posner, Michael I. (2005).
Training, maturation, and genetic influences on the development of executive attention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(41), 14931-14936.
Tang, Y.Y., Lu, Q., Geng, X., Stein, E.A., Yang, Y., Posner, M.I. (2010). Short-term meditation induces white matter changes in the anterior cingulate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(35), 15649-52.

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