The Benefits of Verbalizing Feelings
A bunch of researchers from UCLA have a paper forthcoming in Psychological Science that sounds interesting:
Putting feelings into words (‘affect labeling’) has long been thought to help manage negative emotional experiences, however, the mechanisms by which affect labeling produces this benefit remain largely unknown…. Here, a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study of affect labeling was conducted…. The results indicated that affect labeling, relative to other forms of encoding, diminished the response of the amygdala and other limbic regions to negative emotional images. Additionally, affect labeling produced increased activity in a single brain region, right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (RVLPFC). Finally, RVLPFC and amygdala activity during affect labeling were inversely correlated, a relationship that was mediated by activity in medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). These results suggest that affect labeling may diminish emotional reactivity along a RVLPFC to MPFC to amygdala pathway.
The take away:
These findings begin to shed light on how putting negative feelings into words can help regulate negative experience, a process which may ultimately contribute to better mental and physical health.
The paper is here.