Role of sleep in affect regulated decision making under risk

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Human beings are complex in nature. They live in an equally complex world around them. Their survival requires a constant interaction with both humans and the environment. Such interactions involve decisions that are made with certain or uncertain probabilities of consequences. Among the various factors that affect human decision making, emotions holds a major place. Previous research suggest that the emotions have an impact in the decision making process by influencing risk perception and consequence predictions. This effect of emotion on decisions can be down regulated by using specified behavioral responses that regulate the emotion effects. Besides the extrinsic emotion regulation strategies, sleep naturally lower the tone of emotions through the process of cathartic releases. Thus, sleep acts as a natural emotion regulating mechanism.The present thesis is an attempt to study how behavioral modification of responses after emotions (regulation strategies) influence decision-making ability under risk and with known probabilities of consequences. Further, the study also evaluates the role of sleep on affect-regulated decision making under risk. The present thesis uses both behavioral and electrophysiological data to arrive at its conclusions. Experiment 1 tested the effectiveness of emotion regulation strategies across varied emotion induction methods and valence on decision making under risk. Distraction and cognitive reappraisal strategies significantly downregulated the emotion effect and led to less risk aversive behavior, particularly in negative pictorial stimuli. Other emotion regulation strategies no longer affected risk taking, suggesting these strategies are best suited to minimize carry over effect of emotion on risky decision-making.
Supervisor: Naveen Kashyap