Emotional spillover can affect what comes next

A day at a veterinary practice can be full of emotional highs and lows. Maybe you’ve just been able to deliver good news to a longtime client or maybe you just had a disagreement with a particular co-worker.

Are you letting those emotions from one event carry over into the next? If you are, that emotional spillover can influence impressions and behavior in the situations that follow – sometimes for the worse, according to researchers at the Center for Healthy Minds (CHM) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In studying what happens in the brain when such emotional spillover occurs, researchers for the first time, are able to pinpoint areas directly responsible.

The researchers found, for example, that negative emotional spillover shown in the laboratory produced long-lasting, biased first impressions. According to study leader Regina Lapate, CHM collaborator and postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, in news from the center, that means “if  your first impression of someone is formed when you’re experiencing emotional spillover from a previous context, that negative impression may stick.”

Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a technique that produces a magnetic field that can temporarily “knock out” or inhibit activity in specific parts of the brain, the team discovered that when the lateral prefrontal area—a region known for executive function (attention, focus, impulsivity and more)—was inhibited by the stimulation, participants showed more emotional spillover.

The team plans to examine how contemplative practices may change emotional spillover.

Source: https://centerhealthyminds.org/news/scientists-found-area-of-the-brain-responsible-for-emotional-spillover

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