An EEG Exploration of Emotional Flexibility


  • Michelle Fitos Eötvös Loránd University
  • Raissa de Oliveira Negrão Eötvös Loránd University



One important component in human interaction with the environment is emotional flexibility (EF), or the ability to flexibly shift emotional responses according to environmental modifications. Aging is associated with a general decline in cognitive function, and EF can differ between older and younger adults. However, research has shown that, contrary to what might be expected, older adults often have better emotional regulation than younger adults. As this shows, consistent and ecologically valid EF paradigms are still lacking in the literature. Accordingly, this project is a pilot study which aims to investigate the nuances of EF in older and younger adults using a novel Emotional Shifting Task (EST). The novel EST is a modified oddball paradigm using electroencephalography (EEG) [1].


Two groups of participants (18–26 years and 55+ years ) will complete two behavioral measures and also participate in an EEG oddball task consisting of 4 practice and 300 experimental trials. In each trial, an emotionally valenced pair of images is displayed, with a cropped segment first and the full image afterward. The possible combinations are pos-pos, neg-neg, pos- neg, and neg-pos. After the participant responds whether they feel that the cropped image is positive or negative, the full image is revealed, and the participant responds whether the full image has a positive or negative valence. The study has already received ethical approval and is still in the recruitment phase, and will be carried out over the summer.


[1] B. Biro et al., “Interaction between emotional context-guided shifting and cognitive shifting: Introduction of a novel task,” Neuropsychopharmacol. Hung., vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 319–330, 2021.