Matt Scult: Emotion Regulation, Mathmatical Skills Linked

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Data from a recent P&N brain imaging study found that subjects who had a relatively greater activity in the prefrontal cortex while completing math problems from memory also reported having better emotion regulation skills compared to their peers.

“Our work provides the first direct evidence that the ability to regulate emotions like fear and anger reflects the brain’s ability to make numerical calculations in real time,” said Matthew Scult, a 5th-year P&N Graduate Student in the lab of the study’s senior investigator and P&N Professor,  Ahmad Hariri.

Read about the study in Clinical Psychological Science.

Scult works with Professors  Ahmad Hariri and Tim Strauman, and entered through Duke's Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting Program (CNAP.)  He is now completing his training in the Clinical Psychology Track.

He is interested in combining neuroimaging, genetics, and longitudinal approaches to study mental health, in the hopes that these multifacited designs can help improve diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders.  In particular, he has been studying the role of cognitive function and prefrontal flexibility in depression and anxiety. Recent publications include:

Scult, M. A., Knodt, A. R., Swartz, J. R., Brigidi, B. D., & Hariri, A. R. (2016). Thinking and Feeling Individual Differences in Habitual Emotion Regulation and Stress-Related Mood Are Associated With Prefrontal Executive Control. Clinical Psychological Science, 2167702616654688.

Scult, M. A., Paulli, A. R., Mazure, E. S., Moffitt, T. E., Hariri, A. R., & Strauman, T. J. (2016). The Association between Cognitive Function and Subsequent Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Psychological Medicine14, 1-17.

Scult, M. A., Trampush, J. W., Zheng, F., Conley, E. D., Lencz, T., Malhotra, A. K., ... & Hariri, A. R. (2015). A Common Polymorphism in SCN2A predicts General Cognitive Ability through Effects on PFC Physiology. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.