McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Logan Cross


Major and Classification


Faculty Mentor

    Antonio Damasio, Ph.D.



McNair Project

How the Brain Looks on the Bright Side

Over the past decade, neuroimaging research has implicated the prefrontal cortex as a major contributor to the emotional regulation process in the brain. However, the exact networks that are necessary to complete this process are not fully understood. To investigate this question, Wager and colleagues (2008) developed an experiment to explore how the brain undergoes cognitive reappraisal, an effective emotional regulation strategy (2008). In this independent project, the open source raw dataset from the summarized study was analyzed. The results were replicated and further analyzed with different fMRI data analysis methods. Two separable pathways were identified in relation to the success of the reappraisal process. One pathway predicted greater reappraisal success, and is located through the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) and the nucleus accumbens. The other pathway predicted reduced reappraisal success, and is located through the vlPFC and the amygdala.