Richter, T., Shackman, A. J., Aue, T. & Okon-Singer, H. (in press). The neurobiology of emotion-cognition  interactions. In Baune, B. & Harmer, C. (Eds.). Cognitive dimensions of Major Depressive Disorder: Cognitive, emotional, and social cognitive processes. New York, NY: Oxford University Press .PDFicon-25x39

Humans have long considered emotion and cognition as two separate mental capacities, depending on their subjective different emotional and cognitive experiences. However, evidence for the mutual modulatory relationships between emotional and cognitive functions, as well as for the neural circuits supporting these relationships, are substantially growing. In the current chapter, we review the bi-directional interactions between the cognitive and emotional systems. We focus on threat-related cues and emotional states that influence a variety of attentional and executive functions, including working memory, cognitive control, and selective attention. We further elaborate on the flexibility of cognitive biases towards emotional information, as well as the plasticity of the neural connections supporting these biases. We discuss the influence of cognitive strategies on emotions. Finally, we highlight several limitations of existing research and suggest future scientific directions. Each of these themes is demonstrated among healthy individuals, at-risk populations, and patients with psychiatric disorders. Understanding the mutual influences between emotion and cognition is highly important for both theoretical and clinical knowledge. It may refine our expertise regarding the human mind, as well as contribute to the development of specific interventions for individuals with disorders involving disruption to emotional and cognitive systems.


This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (DA040717, MH107444) and the University of Maryland, College Park. Authors declare no conflicts of interest.