A hallmark of the human condition is the experience of continuously shifting emotional spaces. These spaces are both endogenous and exogenous: We carry with us affective dispositions (moods and action tendencies) that continually interact with external emotional signals. Together, these emotional states profoundly color our everyday lives, sculpting sensory information processing and informing the selection of behavioral goals.
The Lapate Experimental Affective Psychology and Neuroscience Laboratory (LEAP Neuro Lab) at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) investigates mechanisms that give rise to subjective emotional experiences, determine the influence of emotional signals, and promote adaptive responding to emotional events. Our research examines questions such as:
· What is the function of conscious awareness—including metacognitive awareness—in emotion?
· What neural mechanisms promote effective emotion regulation?
· How do representations in distinct prefrontal regions modulate emotional behavior?
To answer these questions, we use a multimodal approach that emphasizes causal inference, and includes non-invasive brain stimulation, recordings of peripheral physiology, electroencephalography, and functional neuroimaging—often combined with behavioral assays and analyses anchored in individual differences. The long term goal of our research program is to uncover basic mechanisms underlying function and dysfunction in emotion generation and regulation that promote wellbeing and reduce vulnerability to psychopathology (such as mood, anxiety, and addiction disorders).