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Thursday, April 27, 2017

4:30 p.m.-4:35 p.m.
Opening Remarks
Kevin Ochsner, President

4:35 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Opening Event: The Process and Practice of Affective Science
Chair: Ann Kring, University of California-Berkeley

Happiness Data and Public Policy
     John Bronsteen, Loyola University Chicago

Public policy aims to make people's lives better.  To the extent that better means happier, psychological data about human happiness can enhance policymakers' understanding of whether a prospective policy is likely to achieve its aim.  Indeed, policymakers have long been frustrated by the problem of commensurating different sorts of outcomes: If prices go up but health improves, for example, then how can such a cost and such a benefit be weighed on the same scale?  The standard approach is to "monetize" benefits by asking how much money people would be willing to pay for them, but a better approach would "hedonize" costs and benefits by using affect data to measure the costs and benefits' effects on people's happiness levels.  Not only is affect data a more direct proxy for what matters than is money, but also it eliminates many of the problems with cost-benefit analysis such as wealth effects (which under-count harms to poorer people) and the changing value of units of money over time.

From the Laboratory to the Real World: Improving External Validity in Affective Science
     Jutta Joormann, Yale University

Who would not want their research to be meaningful for real-world applications? Even if one does not have strong feelings about this, funding agencies, journal editors and reviewers often force explicit consideration of the applicability and generalizability of research studies. This is particularly prevalent in affective science as a widely shared expectation is that it has much to offer to address real-world problems, such as psychological disorders. An unqualified mandate of ”real world implications,” however, may be problematic and have unintended consequences. Internal and external validity are often seen as trade-offs when, in fact, they reflect different intended applications of psychological research requiring different study designs, measures, and theories. A recent trend to convert basic laboratory studies on cognition and emotion into psychological interventions will be used as an example of how this thinking can lead us astray and will also provide an opportunity for the discussion of alternative approaches.

Cultural Variation in Pro-Positive versus Balanced Systems to Emotions
     Yuri Miyamoto, University of Wisconsin-Madison

People generally consider positive emotions to be more favorable than negative emotions and want to increase positive emotions and decrease negative emotions. However, growing evidence suggests that the extent to which people hold such pro-positive and contra-negative systems of emotions differs across cultures. In this talk, I will present our research that examines cultural influences on the valuation, regulation, and experiences of positive emotions. The results show that a pro-positive system of emotion is more prevalent in American cultural contexts, whereas a balanced system of emotion is more dominant in East Asian cultural contexts, where dialectical beliefs have been historically influential. Further, I will also present our research that examines implications of such cultural variations on mental and physical health. Based on these findings, I will argue that whether a pro-positive or balanced system of emotions is associated with better (or worse) health depends on cultural contexts.

The Easy Problem of Other Minds
     Rebecca Saxe, MIT

Trying to develop a theory of emotion is hard. One problem is that our shared cultural assumptions about emotion get in the way. I propose we can make progress by using this weakness as a strength: instead of first studying emotion, we can first study our intuitive theory of emotion. Turning the problem on its head this way is revealing. It provides an organizing principle for thinking about a whole range of behavioral, neural, and clinical evidence. This idea is intended to be provocative: I hope some in the audience will disagree, and will explain why.

6:00 p.m.-6:15 p.m.
Poster Spotlights

Macaques Do Not Evidence Sex Differences in Threat Processing
    Victoria Heng, University of California-Davis

Childhood Maltreatment Predicts Poor Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Outcomes for Acute Depression
    Elizabeth Cosby, Brown University

Does Higher Social Class Cause Poorer Emotion Perception?
    Christen Deveney, Wellesley College

Improving Emotion Labeling in Alexithymia: A Preliminary Assessment of the Emotion Mapping Activity
    Emily Edwards, John Jay College/CUNY Graduate Center

Adaptive Emotion Regulation Style Moderates Frontal Brain Asymmetry to Influence Recovery From State Emotions
    Aliza Schwartzblatt, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Prenatal Stress Takes Smiles Away--A Mediation Analysis of Superstorm Sandy Exposure, Monoamine Oxidase A and Infant Temperament at 12 Months
    Patricia M. Pehme, Queens College/The Graduate Center, City University of New York

The Role of Reappraisal Success in Memory
    Nick Yeh, San Francisco State University

Gender and Recent Trauma Impact Emotion Regulation Choice
    Tabitha Alverio, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Opening Reception and Poster Session A


Friday, April 28, 2017

8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Attendee Submitted Thematic Flash Talks
Psychopathology and Neurodegeneration
Chair: Dan Foti, Purdue University

Craving Predicts Drug Use: A Quantitative Meta-Analysis
    Hedy Kober, Yale University

Identifying the Mood Brightening Benefits of Social Interaction in Current and Remitted Major Depression
    Erin Sheets, Colby College

The Prospective Relationship Between Emotion Dynamics and Psychopathological Symptoms
    Marlies Houben, KU Leuven

Cortisol Administration Modulates Premotor Cortex Activation and Negative Memory Bias in Depressed Women with History of Early Life Adversity
    Heather Abercrombie, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Bipolarity of Affect and Depression
    Egon Dejonckheere, KU Leuven

Fear vs. Anxiety, What's the Difference?  Differential Electrocortical and Heart Rate Responses to Predictable and Unpredictable Threat
    Matthias Wieser, Erasmus University Rotterdam

The Effects of Oxytocin on Detection of Emotional Prosody in Speech in Individuals with Schizophrenia and Healthy Controls
    Brandon Chuang, University of California-Berkeley

Lower  Empathic Accuracy in Patients with Neurodegenerative Disease is Associated with Greater Depression in Familial Caregivers
    Casey Brown, University of California-Berkeley

Diminished Physiological Response to "Task Instructions" in Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia
    Kuan-Hua Chen, University of Calfiornia-Berkeley

8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Attendee Submitted Thematic Flash Talks
Emotion Perception
Chair: Yulia Chentsova, Georgetown University

Chinese Folk Expressions Form Perceptual Categories
    Maria Gendron, Northeastern University

Context Facilitates Cross-Cultural Emotion Perception
    Katie Hoemann, Northeastern University

Pride Cues Social Inclusion (at Least When Authentic)
    Lisa A. Williams, University of New South Wales

Artistic Truth vs. Optical Truth: Why Viewers of Extreme Facial Expressions Ignore Helpful Diagnostic Tips
    Hillel Aviezer, Hebrew University

Analyzing Spontaneous Emotional Facial Expressions Using Facet Facial Analysis Software
    Ross Buck, University of Connecticut

Emotional Expressivity and Interpersonal Perceptions in Interactions Between Black Cancer Patients and Non-Black Physicians
    Nicole Senft, Georgetown University

Caregivers' Life and Relationship Satisfaction: The Role of Patients' Ability to Recognize Caregivers' Emotions
    Dyan Connelly, University of California-Berkeley

Are You Smiling or Have I Seen You Before?  Familiarity Makes Faces Look Happier
    Evan Carr, University of California-San Diego

8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Attendee Submitted Thematic Flash Talks
Chair: Heather Urry, Tufts University

Are There Age Differences in Emotional Expressivity?  Meta Analyses By Method and Valence
    Ishabel Vicaria, Northeastern University

Mechanisms Underlying the Development of Multidimensional Emotion Concept Representation
    Erik Nook, Harvard University

Control Yourself!  Parents' Beliefs That Children Can Control Their Emotions Are Linked with Maladaptive Responses to Their Children's Emotions
    Helena Rose Kamilowicz, University of California-Berkeley

Regulating Responses to Negative Social Stimuli Across Development
    Chelsea Helion, Columbia University

Children's Prototypic Facial Expressions During Emotion-Eliciting Conversations with Their Mothers
    Vanessa Castro, Northeastern University

Why So Positive?  A Study on Positivity Bias and Emotion Perception in Younger and Older Adults
    Miray Erbey, Max Planck Institute

Stress Reactivity in Older Adulthood: An Empirical Test of the Maturational Dualism Hypothesis
    Erika Siegel, Northeastern University

Early Life Stress is Associated with Precocious Amygdala Development and an Unexpected Dip in Fear-Associated Learning.
    Kevin Bath, Brown University

Labels Facilitate Facial Expression Categorization in Perverbal Infants
    Ashley Ruba, University of Washington

9:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
TED-Style Talks
Chair: Kevin Ochsner, Columbia University

The Science of Connection
     Thalia Wheatley, Dartmouth College

The human brain evolved to be massively interactive with its social environment. A deep understanding of human thought and behavior will therefore require research that incorporates the social context. In this talk I will present research from my lab that investigates physiological signals that dynamically index social connection. I will argue that a rich understanding of the human mind will require a shift from traditional scientific practices (static stimuli, treating people as isolated units) to methods that better simulate the interactive, dynamic world that the brain evolved to solve.

Why Should Emotion Researchers Care About the Vagus?
     Julian Thayer, Ohio State University

The intimate connection between the brain and the heart via the vagus nerve was enunciated by Claude Bernard over 150 years ago. Darwin in his classic book on the expression of emotion in man and animals also stressed the importance of the vagus nerve. So what happened between then and now? In our neurovisceral integration model we have tried to build on this pioneering work and revive interest in the vagus. In the present talk we further elaborate our model and update it with recent results. A meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies on the relationship between heart rate variability and regional cerebral blood flow identified a number of regions, including the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, in which significant associations across studies were found. We have also explored the neurovisceral concomitants of both implicit and explicit emotion regulation. Heart rate variability may provide an index of how strongly ‘top –down’ appraisals, mediated by cortical-subcortical pathways, shape brainstem activity and autonomic responses in the body.  If the default response to uncertainty is the threat response, as we have proposed, contextual information represented in ‘appraisal’ systems may be necessary to overcome this bias during daily life.  Thus, heart rate variability may serve as a proxy for ‘vertical integration’ of the brain mechanisms that guide flexible control over behavior with peripheral physiology, and as such provides an important window into understanding emotion regulation and dysregulation.

Rainy Brain Sunny Brain: The Cognitive Roots of Optimism and Pessimism
     Elaine Fox, University of Oxford

Why do people differ in how they react to adversity and to great success? Research has moved beyond asking if genes or environments are important to investigating how genes and environments interleave together to make us who we are. Instead of having risky or vulnerability genes, certain genetic variants may operate in a “for better and worse” manner: Genes that are risky when times are tough may be the very same genes that can be an advantage when we are in positive supportive environments. Our research investigates the mechanisms by which genes & environments influence our personality. At the heart of these differences are cognitive biases: implicit ways of processing the information around us that operates under the radar of consciousness. Cognitive biases act like lenses that color our perception of the world. They operate in what we notice - the attention system- in how we interpret ambiguity -e.g., in social situations - and in terms of what we remember. These differences are rooted in a mesh of neural networks that I call our Rainy Brain and our Sunny Brain

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.
Lunch Break (on your own)

11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Speed Networking Lunch (advance registration required)
Meet in the hotel lobby at 11:40 a.m. to walk over to Salvatore's Restaurant

1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Invited Flash Talks
Chair: Paul Hamilton, Linköping University

Emotions and Reinforcement Learning: An Integrative Approach Towards Understanding Emotions and Their Relation to Adaptive Behavior
     Joost Broekens, Delft University of Technology

Emotions are intimately tied to the adaptation of behavior and exist in many higher species. Given the omnipresence of emotions in many animals, emotions must be related to powerful mechanisms that aid survival, and, emotions must be a continuous phenomenon given that both in evolution as well as in individual human development emotions of gradually more complex nature emerge. How did that happen in the evolution of species, how do emotions evolve within an organism together with its cognitive complexity, how do emotions get elicited by events, how do they impact behavior and why do emotions exist in so many higher species? In this research we aim to answer these questions with the reinforcement learning paradigm as basis. RL is a powerful computational model for the learning of goal oriented tasks by exploration and feedback. Evidence indicates that RL-like processes also exists in many animal species. Key in RL is the notion of temporal difference error (δ), the estimate of how much better or worse a situation just became, compared to what was previously expected. Another way to put this is that temporal difference error is the perception of gain or loss of utility, resulting from new evidence. Our computational simulation work shows that many emotions can be expressed in terms of temporal difference errors, either as δ itself or as (un)expected or (dis)confirmed δ. We relate our findings to the understanding of the nature of emotions in animals, as well as how emotions can help us develop of adaptive robots and agents.

Identifying Shared Affective Experiences with Inter-Subject Representational Similarity Analysis
     Luke Chang, Dartmouth College

A major goal of affective neuroscience is to identify systematic mappings between psychological and neural function.  The standard paradigm is to manipulate a psychological state and identify brain regions that change consistently across people.  However, this approach cannot scale to more naturalistic experimental paradigms and assumes that systematic differences across people are noise. Here we identify affective processes associated with parasocial relationships while participants watch a TV drama using Inter-Subject Representational Similarity Analysis.   We find that participants who shared similar liking preferences for the characters had similar affective experiences while watching the show, including greater temporal synchronization in smiling behavior and also in the ventral striatum.  These results indicate that variation in responses across participants do not simply reflect noise, but rather can provide a powerful technique to extract meaningful signals associated with psychological processes.  We hope that this technique will help researchers explore new experimental avenues using naturalistic paradigms.

Control and the Calibration of Motivated Behavior
     Catherine Hartley, New York University

When voluntary behavior can be used to bring about desired or beneficial outcomes, an individual can be said to have control. As the phenomenon of learned helplessness famously demonstrated, controllability of biologically-relevant outcomes can radically alter subsequent behavior. We hypothesize that such effects reflect a generalization process, in which past experiences of control are used to calibrate ongoing behavioral strategies, promoting proactive goal-directed and exploratory behaviors when opportunities for adaptive instrumental action are assumed to be likely, and innate reactive Pavlovian behaviors when the environment is assumed to afford little control. In this talk, I will present data consistent with this hypothesis demonstrating that exerting active control over aversive stimuli alters the neurocircuitry engaged by threats and attenuates subsequent reactive threat responses. I will discuss how this conceptual framework may provide insight into the divergent effects of high and low-control environments on the development of motivated behavior.

When Can a Computer Improve Your Social Skills
     M. Ehsan Hoque, University of Rochester

Carefully-designed feedback on automatically-sensed human behavior has been effective in improving important social and cognitive skills. We have shown that automated systems are able to improve people's skills in areas including interviewing for jobs, public speaking, negotiating, producing vowels for music training, helping elderly people and individuals with Asperger’s syndrome overcome social difficulties, and even speed dating. In this talk, I will offer insights from our early explorations of the following questions: How are humans able to improve important social and cognitive skills with a computer? What aspect of the feedback helps the most?

Group Identity and the Polarization of Blame and Anger During High-Salience Group Conflict
     Cherie Maestas, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

We examine the effect of group conflict on blame attributions and anger during crisis events using survey data collected shortly after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, NC. We argue that news attentiveness moderates the size of the effect of social identity on emotions and blame attributions for protests and riots by making social identity the most salient cue when forming opinions about unfolding events. Respondents reporting higher relative belongingness to whites versus blacks were more likely to attribute relative blame for the protests to behavioral choices of residents and media versus systemic causes of racism, inequality, and police training. However, the effect of relative white belongingness on blame attribution and anger was greatest for those with high attention to news coverage. The findings highlight how race-salient critical moments exacerbate intractable conflict by polarizing views of causation and infusing the political process with emotion.    

Divergent Patterns of Social Attention in Tolerant and Despotic Macaques
     Alexandra Rosati, Harvard University

Humans exhibit a suite of changes in socioemotional functioning during development and aging. Studies of other primate species can provide insight into the biological origins of these shifts. I will discuss work examining age-related changes in the social cognition of two natural-living macaque populations. Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) are characterized by steep dominance hierarchies and aggression, whereas Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) display more tolerant and affiliative interactions. Both species followed gaze to a distant target more in test trials where an actor looked up compared to control trials. However, they differed in their ontogenetic trajectories. While both exhibited high rates of gaze following as juveniles, rhesus monkeys exhibited declines in responsivity with age more like humans, whereas Barbary macaques maintained high levels of social attention even into old age. This indicates that developmental patterns of social attention vary evolutionarily with tolerant social systems across primates.

Biological Mechanisms Linking Targeted Rejection and Health
     George Slavich, University of California-Los Angeles

Stressful life events involving targeted rejection are among the strongest psychosocial precipitants of mental and physical health problems, including asthma and depression. But, how do these stressors influence the brain and body to affect health? By employing cutting-edge methods from psychology, neuroscience, immunology, and genomics, we have found that targeted rejection engages brain regions that have been hypothesized to represent social-environmental threat and interoceptive states. These life events also upregulate molecular signaling pathways that increase localized and systemic inflammation. Although activation of this multi-level neural and peripheral “threat response” can be adaptive during times of social or physical danger, this response also increases risk for inflammation-related health problems, especially when prolonged. Together, this work begins to provide the empirical basis for a multi-level “social signal transduction theory” that attempts to elucidate the full set of psychological and biological mechanisms linking social stress and health.

2:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Discussion:  NIH's Science of Behavior Change
Chair: Janine Simmons, National Institute of Mental Health

Janine Simmons
Rebecca Ferrer, National Cancer Institute
Lisa Onken, National Institute on Aging

2:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Flash Talks: Emotion in Consumer Research
Chair: Herbert Meiselman, Herb Meiselman Training and Consulting

Herbert Meiselman
David Thomson, MMR Worldwide and University of Reading, UK
Michelle Niedziela, HCD Research

2:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Wendy Berry Mendes, University of California-San Francisco

2:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Jerome Kagan, Harvard University

4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
Keynote Address
Chair: Peter Rudebeck, Icahn School of Medicine

Infant Trauma and Maternal Control of the Infant Brain: Lessons From an Animal Model
     Regina M. Sullivan, New York University School of Medicine

In many mammalian species, the caregiver regulates the infant brain and behavior, including humans. Here we use rodent mother-infant interactions to assess the maternal influence over pup brain in three ecologically relevant situations. First, we present data on mother’s social buffering of her pups’ stress response during odor-shock conditioning blocks amygdala-dependent fear learning.  Second, we show how pup social referencing of the mother’s fear response can override social buffering to permit pups to learn fear in her presence. The pups learn a specific amygdala-dependent fear odor controlled by the fearful mother’s ability to increase pups’ corticosterone. Third, we show how maternal control over the pups’ brain is not dependent upon pups being in a stress-related context.  Using local field potentials, we show that the mother’s presence increases pups cortical synchronization, although maternal behaviors (i.e., milk ejection, grooming) increase desynchronization.  For all examples, maternal control over pups’ brains decreases as pups approach independence. 

5:00 p.m.-5:15 p.m.
Poster Spotlights
Chair: Nathan Consedine, University of Auckland

Interoceptive Sensitivity and Physiological Reactivity Differentially Predict Emotional and Somatic Experiences
    Jennifer MacCormack, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Damage to Neural Structures for Semantic Processing is Associated with Diminished Sadness Reactivity in Frontotemporal Dementia
    Alice Hua, University of California-Berkeley

Coherence Among Behavior and Physiology During Sadness Responding: Associations with Age and Well-Being
    Deborah Wu, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

The Role of Emodiversity in Cultivating Empathy in the Context of Stress
    Elaine Cheung, Northwestern University

Emotion Regulation in Preschool Children: Contributions of Working Memory and Inhibitory Control
    Basak Oztahtaci, Boston University

Chronic Physiological Stress and Negative Temperament in Infancy Predict Emotion Regulation Skills in Preschoolers
    Katie Kao, Boston University

Reward Cues Bias Auditory Attentional Selection and Suppression
    Erkin Asutay, Linköping University

Sensitivity to Others' Subtle Socioemotional Signals is Mediated by Degree of Intrinsic Connectivity Between Anterior Insula and Interoceptive Salience Network Nodes
    Gianina Toller, University of California-San Francisco

5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Poster Session B

8:00 p.m.-midnight
3rd Annual SASSC Student Social
The Field Pub
20 Prospect St. in Cambridge
Free drinks for the first 30 attendees!


Saturday, April 29, 2017

8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Attendee Submitted Thematic Flash Talks
Stress and Health
Chair: Nathan Consedine, University of Auckland

Say Cheeeeese!  The Ability to Smile on Demand Predicts Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk
    Nathan Consedine, University of Auckland

Awesome Day Keeps Stress Away: The Effect of Awe on Daily Hassle and Well-Being
    Yang Bai, University of California-Berkeley

Unhappy People Quickly Promote Happy Faces into Awareness
    Hannah Raila, Yale University

Oscillation, Stress, and the Role of the Cerebellum
    Reese Minshew

Did it Change You?  Emotional States Before and After Being Diagnosed with a Chronic Disease
    Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, Harvard University

Why I Don't Always Know What I'm Feeling: Within-Person Fluctuations in Emotion Differentiation, and the Role of Stress
    Yasemin Erbas, KU Leuven

Compassion and Suffering: Guilt as a Driving Force for Post-Traumatic Prosocial Growth
    Daniel Lim, Northeastern University

When Context Matters: Negative Emotions and Psychological Adjustment
    Karin Coifman, Kent State University

8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Attendee Submitted Thematic Flash Talks
Cognition and Emotion: Prediction, Decision, and Retrieval
Chair: Paul Hamilton, Linköping University

Religious People Forecast but do not Experience Less Negative Emotion Following a Negative Outcome
    Steven Carlson, University of California-Irvine

Affective Forecasting as a Resource for Situation Selection Across the Lifespan
    Victoria Floerke, Tufts University

Prior Knowledge Biases Threat Detection: Evidence From Computational Modeling and Multivariate Pattern Analyses (MVPA)
    Jingwen Jin, Stony Brook University

In the Wake of Tragedy: Changes in Threat-Relevant Decision-Making Over the First Anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings
    Jolie Wormwood, Northeastern University

Disrupting Facial Expressions Increases Risk Taking in Decision-Making
    Stephanie Carpenter, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Investigating the Effect of System Reliability on Users' Emotions
    Yusuf Albayram, University of Connecticut

Empathic Emotion Regulation Influences Prosocial Decision-Making
    Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz, University of Pennsylvania

The Effect of Acute Pain on Risky and Intertemporal Choice
    Lina Koppel, Linköping University

Explicit and Spontaneous Memory Retrieval of Emotional Associates: Evidence from Brain Potentials
    Mathias Weymar, University of Potsdam

8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Attendee Submitted Thematic Flash Talks
Emotion Regulation
Chair: Sandra Langeslag, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Social Emotion Regulation in Response to Anxiety and Sadness in Difficult Life Dilemmas
    Jocelyn Shu, Columbia University

The Temporal Deployment of Emotion Regulation Strategies During Negative Emotional Episodes
    Elise Kalokerinos, KU Leuven

Mix it to Fix it: Emotion Regulation Variability in Daily life
    Elisabeth Blanke, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

The Psychological Health Benefits of Accepting Negative Emotions and Thoughts:  Laboratory, Diary, and Longitudinal Evidence
    Brett Ford, University of California-Berkeley

Making it Not Feel so Bad (or Good)
    Greg Siegle, University of Pittsburgh

Meaning-Based Reappraisal Moderates the Relation Between Anger and Protest Participation and Distrust in Respone to the Keith Scott Shooting
    Sara Levens, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

When are Worry and Rumination Negatively Related to Heart Rate Variability: The Moderating Role of Cognitive Reappraisal
    Andre Plate, The Ohio State University

Emotion Regulation can be Double-Edged: Reappraisal, but not Distraction, Impairs Task-Switching Performance
    Vera Newman, University of New South Wales, Australia

Individual Differences in Reappraisal: Relations to Cognitive Control and Depression
    William Vanderlind, Northwestern University

9:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
TED-Style Talks
Chair: Paula Niedenthal, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Psychology of Ritual
     Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School

Rituals pervade every aspect of human life, from competitions and marriage to baptisms and funerals – from (literally) the cradle to the grave. While anthropologists have documented an astonishing array of rituals around the world, little empirical research has examined their underlying psychology or tested the causal effects of rituals on human emotion, condition, and behavior. A series of projects explore the influence of ritual in domains ranging from grieving to consumption, team and solo performance to intergroup bias, and even their role in improving family holidays. We show that rituals exert influence through a wide range of mediating processes – including increased control, decreased anxiety, and increased involvement – and begin to offer an overarching conceptual account of the psychology of ritual.

During Intense of Emotionally Arousing Moments How Does the Brain Know What to Encode
     Mara Mather, University of Southern California

Many of our most vivid memories arise from emotionally intense moments. But such memories also often have notable gaps and it can be hard to predict where the gaps will be. For instance, when seeing something emotionally intense—such as someone being shot—people will often have amnesia for what happened right beforehand. Likewise, emotionally evocative objects such as a gun usually impair memory for neutral background information. But sometimes emotionally intense events strengthen memories of neutral things that happened right beforehand or were in the background.

In a series of studies, we found that the key thing that determines whether arousal will enhance or impair memory is the priority or salience of the information in question. Arousal enhances encoding high priority information while impairing encoding low priority information. Thus, arousal makes attention and memory more selective by favoring strong and inhibiting weak representations. This makes sense—during such moments it is especially important to focus on what matters most—but raises questions about how this works in the brain. How can arousal have opposite effects on different memory representations depending on their priority? In our Glutamate Amplifies Noradrenergic Effects (GANE) model, we posit that the brain’s primary excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate, provides a neural marker of priority and interacts locally with norepinephrine to create hot spots of high activity. Thus, via this GANE mechanism, the brain can flexibly mark what has high priority at any particular moment, allowing arousal to highlight what really matters and suppress other potentially distracting information.

Emotional Success:  Willpower From the Bottom Up
     David DeSteno, Northeastern University

Emotions have long been theorized to be the bane of self-control, with success in intertemporal dilemmas assumed to come from the suppression of "hot" emotional responses. In this talk, I'll present a case for why linking self-control and grit solely to executive function is incorrect. In so doing, I'll show how self-control and related virtues can emerge from the "bottom-up" through using specific emotional states as tools. 

11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Lunch Break (on your own)

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.
Methods Lunches (pre-registration required)
Meet in the lobby of the Westin Hotel at 11:40 a.m. to walk to the Rosa Mexicano restaurant

1:15 p.m.-2:15 p.m.
Keynote Address
Chair: Maital Neta, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Mechanisms of Threat Control in Humans
     Elizabeth A. Phelps, New York University

Animal models of associative threat learning provide a basis for understanding human fears and anxiety.  Building on research from animal models, we explore a range of means maladaptive defensive responses can be diminished in humans.   First, I will outline how extinction and emotion regulation, techniques adapted in cognitive behavioral therapy, can be used to control learned defensive responses via inhibitory signals from the ventromedial prefrontal cortex to the amygdala.  One drawback of these techniques is that these responses are only inhibited and can return, with one factor being stress. I will then review research examining the lasting control of maladaptive defensive responses by targeting memory reconsolidation and present evidence suggesting that the behavioral interference of reconsolidation in humans diminishes involvement of the prefrontal cortex inhibitory circuitry, although there are limitations to its efficacy.  Finally, I will describe two novel behavioral techniques that might result in a more lasting fear reduction, the first by providing control over stressor and the second by substituting a novel, neutral cue for the aversive unconditioned stimulus. 

2:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Poster Spotlights
Chair: Sandra Langeslag, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Trait Positive Affect, Resting Cardiac Vagal Tone and Executive Brain Function
    Wei Lu, Shaanxi Normal University

The Late Positive Potential to Imagined Negative Scenes
    Annmarie MacNamara, University of Illinois-Chicago

Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia is Associated with Impulsivity in Preschoolers
    Zhenhong Wang, Shaanxi Normal University

The Association Between Maternal Bonding and Inter-Brain Synchronization in the Anterior Prefrontal Cortex During Mother-Infant Tactile Interaction
    Aikko Tange, Unicharm Corporation

Cardiac Interaction Between Mother and Infant(1): Infant Heart Rate Variability Enhanced by Increased Maternal Heart Rate Variability
    Ayami Suga, Unicharm Corporation

Decision-Making in Infants: Tactile Preferences Evaluated by Reaching and Preferential Looking
    Akane Matsuyo, Unicharm Corporation

Fictional Transportation: Associations Among Reading, Interest in Emotion, and Genre Preferences
    Sarah Cavanagh, Assumption College

Moral Foundations and the Experience of Jealousy in Romantic Relationships
    John Kim, Lesley University

Fear Broadens Attention: Fear and Happiness Motivate Attentional Flexibility Impairing Split Attentional Foci
    Jordan Wylie, The Graduate Center, CUNY

2:45 p.m.-4:15 p.m.
Poster Session C

4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Hot Topic Session: In Intractable Conflicts
Chair: Greg Siegle, University of Pittsburgh

Emotions in Intractable Conflict: Studying Emotional Processes Within a Unique Context
     Eran Halperin, IDC Herzliya (Anchor Talk)

Recent years have seen researchers making initial steps towards drawing on insights from emotion research in the study of conflicts. I argue that building bridges between these two communities (i.e., scholars of emotions and those studying conflict resolution) would help us to form a better understanding of core processes in emotion and emotion regulation as well as greatly advance theory and practice in conflict resolution. But the knowledge on emotion and emotion regulation cannot simply be implanted “as is” into the study of these unique contexts. My talk will begin with outlining the importance but also the challenges of integrating these two disciplines. From there I'll proceed to detailing the contextual factors unique to intractable conflict that must be taken into account when studying emotional processes, and then to a review of recent work studying various aspects of emotions and emotion regulation processes in different conflicts. Finally, I'll discuss the challenges facing those wishing to integrate conflict studies and emotion research. 

Overcorrection for Social-Categorization Information Moderates Impact Bias in Affective Forecasting
    Tatiana Lau, Harvard University

We are Bad, But They are Worse: Perceived Intergroup Conflict Predicts Negative Feelings About Ingroup and Outgroup in the 2016 Presidential Election
    Nicole Betz, Northeastern University

Reconceptualizing Bias: Conceptualization Shapes Relationship Between Negative Affect and Fear of Black Americans
    Kent Lee, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Motivated Processes of Emotional Influence:  Analysis of Tweets from the Ferguson Unrest
    Amit Goldenberg, Stanford University

5:45 p.m.-7:15 p.m.
Closing Event
Presidential Symposium
Chair:  Kevin Ochsner, Columbia University

The HUMAN Project
     Hannah Bayer, New York University

While scientific breakthroughs in disciplines ranging from medicine to cosmology have been made possible by large-scale research initiatives (e.g. the Human Genome Project, The Hubble Telescope), the study of human behavior has yet to be the focus of such a large-scale inquiry. This talk will describe the HUMAN project (THP), which aims to provide an interdisciplinary research platform for doing exactly that.  Because we don’t yet know how the interaction of many different aspects of our biology, behavior, and environment support physical and mental health and well-being, THP will gather an unprecedented array of data from 10,000 participants over multiple decades.  As such, THP will serve as a public resource for learning about the connections between our minds, bodies, and environment, providing a unique platform for asking fundamental scientific questions about human behavior – including all manner of affective phenomena – as well as developing new theories, therapeutics, and policy recommendations for addressing societal challenges. 

Reproducible, Generalizable Brain Models of Affective Processes
     Tor Wager, University of Colorado-Boulder

Recent years have seen dramatic advancement in the measurement of biology at a systems level. Researchers routinely obtain thousands or millions of simultaneous measures of dynamic systems.  In humans, this includes neuroimaging, which can be used to probe the brain bases of affect and emotion in increasingly sophisticated ways. Neuroimaging can provide measures of activity in 300,000 brain locations and 60 billion functional associations every second. However, the complexity of these measures presents new challenges in maintaining scientific transparency and reproducibility. In this talk, I describe several new models of the brain bases of affective processes, including models that predict the intensity of negative affect, autonomic responses, prosocial emotions, and pain. These models reduce complex neuroimaging data to measures that can be readily replicated and generalized across laboratories. They can be tested prospectively on new participants, providing unbiased estimates of effect size that are often dramatically larger than single regions from standard brain maps. By asking which stimuli and psychological states these measures respond to across studies, we can induce the nature of their associated psychological constructs, providing a foundation for understanding how affect and emotion are generated in the brain.  

Dynamic Epigenetic Interplay with a Genome in a Social Context
     Frances Champagne, Columbia University

Advances in our understanding of the dynamic interplay between environmental experience and genes have led a to broader and more dynamic view of the contextual determinants of behavior.  Within this perspective, environmentally-induced epigenetic variation takes on a central role in linking experiences across with lifespan with altered biological and behavioral outcomes.  Importantly, these experiences include physiological and emotional states responsive to social cues.  I will describe the relevance of a dynamic epigenetic perspective within psychology and discuss the bidirectional relationship between physiological/mood states and epigenetic variation that occur during development leading to individual differences in psychological functioning.      

Measuring Words to Understand Emotion
     James W. Pennebaker, University of Texas-Austin

The words people use in everyday language provide insight into their thoughts, behaviors, personalities, and emotions.  With the advent of computer-based text analysis and the ability to capture spoken and written language on a grand scale, we can now track social and psychological processes in individuals, groups, and entire cultures over time in ways never imagined even a generation ago. This talk summarizes ways to understand naturally occurring emotion through word use in ways that go far beyond mere sentiment analysis.  Implications for basic lab-based experiments and more real-world research projects will be discussed.

7:15 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Closing Ceremony

7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Closing Reception


Student Lounge
In response to feedback, this year SAS has created a Student Lounge for students to have a common space for meeting friends and colleagues between sessions or before meals!  We will also have coat racks in the Student Lounge for you to store your posters, coats, and bags, so you don't have to carry them to each session.  You can find the Student Lounge in the hotel's Griffin Room.  Please let SAS Student Committee members know if you have ideas for other amenities that would be helpful.