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The 4th phase of “Gao Juefu Psychological Lectures” in School of Psychology: A series of FMRI studies on regret and relief by Prof. Xiuyan Guo from East China Normal University

On the morning of 10th May, The 4th phase of “Gao Juefu Psychological Lectures” in School of Psychology was held successfully. The keynote speaker was Prof. Xiuyan Guo from School of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences in East China Normal University. The title of the lecture was A Series of FMRI Studies on Regret and Relief. The upholder of the lecture was Prof. Zhu Deng, the vice dean of School of Psychology in Nanjing Normal University. About 200 audiences consisted by teachers and students attended the lecture.

Prof. Xiuyan Guo, a Ph.D. tutor, is now the vice dean of School of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences in East China Normal University. She is also the director of National Psychology Experimental Teaching Demonstration Center, Professor of Changjiang Scholars of the Ministry of Education, 2014 cultural masters and "four groups" of talent, and the national philosophy and social science leading talent. Her research interest is psychology of learning and memory, and social cognitive neuroscience etc. She published more than 100 academic papers, participated the edit of 2 foreign books, and wrote 3 national planning teaching books. She held more than 10 research projects on the national level, provincial and ministerial level. She is now the executive director of the Chinese Psychological Association, vice president of Shanghai Psychological Association, and the editorial board of Acta Psychologica Sinica.

At the beginning of the lecture, Prof. Guo shared her interesting findings from her group’s research about regret, embarrass, then she stated the meaning of the research on the emotion of regret. In her opinion, self-blame is always accompanied by regret, and rumination in the regret may be harm to individuals’ mental health. However, if individuals can succeed to get rid of regret, they will learn a lot, which is good to individuals’ mental health and has the meaning of evolution. After that, Prof. Guo vividly elaborated the continuous risk decision task, the research paradigm used in her research. She said that even though there may be some differences between the induced regret in laboratory situation and that in real daily life, the feelings of regret are quite similar. Therefore, it is also important to study the regret in lab situation. Prof. Guo shared some research results from her research. To be specific, individuals with higher levels of regret were more inclined to adventure in the following decision. At the level of the neural mechanism, different brain regions were involved in the regret and relief processing: the superior temporal gyrus participated the processing of regret, while the striatum participated the processing of relief. In addition, she investigated the moderation of attention to the decision-making results in the regret and follow-up resk decision-making. She found that compared to those focused on missed opportunities, participants who focused on the interests had a significant lower levels of regret, and were inclined to be conservative in the follow-up decision. Brain functional imaging suggested that interest-bearing conditions were associated with more reward-related brain regions (bilateral striatum) and activation of brain regions associated with attention control (midrib, top lobular). Prof. Guo hoped that those studies can give everyone some implications about how to adjust their negative emotions and learning and growing from regret.

At the question and answer section of the lecture, Prof. Guo answered all the questions about the research. She said that pain and happiness are accompanied when doing research, and no one can get a satisfying results immediately. The only way to get success is trying again and again. Prof. Guo’s report received the enthusiastic response from the audience.