Inhibitory control of emotional processing: Theoretical and empirical considerations

Morgan E. Bartholomew, Wendy Heller, Gregory A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although inhibitory control appears to support successful emotion regulation (ER; Joorman and Gotlib, 2010; McCabe et al., 2010), few emotion inhibition studies position themselves in the literature on ER, and even fewer ER studies reference the role of emotion inhibition. Perhaps contributing to this, the ER literature is frequently divided into implicit or “automatic” (which subsumes emotion inhibition) and explicit or “effortful” control (Braunstein et al., 2017; Gyurak et al., 2011). The present paper evaluates relationships among constructs of inhibitory control, emotion inhibition, and ER to assess neural evidence for and against distinctions between implicit and explicit ER. We argue that, whereas the distinction between implicit and explicit ER may appear organizationally or conceptually helpful, such categorical distinctions are not supported by available research and in fact contribute to imbalances in the research literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-10
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Emotion inhibition
  • Emotion regulation
  • Inhibitory control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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