Tell it to a child! A brain stimulation study of the role of left inferior frontal gyrus in emotion regulation during storytelling

Cosimo Urgesi, Alan D A Mattiassi, Tania Buiatti, Andrea Marini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In everyday life we need to continuously regulate our emotional responses according to their social context. Strategies of emotion regulation allow individuals to control time, intensity, nature and expression of emotional responses to environmental stimuli. The left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) is involved in the cognitive control of the selection of semantic content. We hypothesized that it might also be involved in the regulation of emotional feelings and expressions. We applied continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) over LIFG or a control site before a newly-developed ecological regulation task that required participants to produce storytelling of pictures with negative or neutral valence to either a peer (unregulated condition) or a child (regulated condition). Linguistic, expressive, and physiological responses were analyzed in order to assess the effects of LIFG-cTBS on emotion regulation. Results showed that the emotion regulation context modulated the emotional content of narrative productions, but not the physiologic orienting response or the early expressive behavior to negative stimuli. Furthermore, LIFG-cTBS disrupted the text-level structuring of negative picture storytelling and the early cardiac and muscular response to negative pictures; however, it did not affect the contextual emotional regulation of storytelling. These results may suggest that LIFG is involved in the initial detection of the affective arousal of emotional stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Aug 20 2015



  • Continuous theta burst stimulation
  • Emotion regulation
  • Left inferior frontal gyrus
  • Reappraisal
  • Semantic control
  • Storytelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology

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