Thinking hurts - On the affective signatures of cognitive control

01 January 2017 → 31 December 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Other biological sciences
    • Other natural sciences
cognitive control
Project description

We often get the advice to either "use our brain" or "follow our heart": This distinction between cognition and emotion is widely embedded in our everyday lives and popular culture, and has inspired many philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists alike. By now, most researchers of brain and behaviour seem to agree that cognition and emotion strongly interact. However, by emphasizing that cognition and emotion interact, researchers often still treat both as separate constructs and therefore (unintentionally) continue to emphasize the distinction between both. In this project, we are inspired by new theoretical frameworks that emphasize shared, rather than interacting, (neural) mechanisms of cognition and emotion, and propose to study the affective signatures of cognitive control. Building forward on the increasingly popular idea that effortful cognitive control processes are aversive in nature (e.g., "thinking hurts"), we recently proposed that successfully overcoming these "aversive" cognitive obstacles generates an inherent feeling of reward. Unfortunately, both theoretical ideas lack a conclusive empirical basis: the available data focuses on one aspect of cognitive control only (i.e., conflict processing), and brain data is currently lacking. Here, we intend to extend the study of affective signs of cognitive control to other wellknown control processes and their neural signatures.