Neurocognitive reorganization of emotional processing following a socio-cognitive intervention in Colombian ex-combatants

Valencia, S and Trujillo, N and Trujillo, S and Acosta, A and Rodríguez, M and Ugarriza, JE and López, JD and García, AM and Parra, MA (2020) Neurocognitive reorganization of emotional processing following a socio-cognitive intervention in Colombian ex-combatants. Social Neuroscience, 15 (4). pp. 398-407. ISSN 1747-0927 (

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Ex-combatants often exhibit atypical Emotional Processing (EP) such as reduced emphatic levels and higher aggressive attitudes. Social Cognitive Training (SCT) addressing socio-emotional components powerfully improve social interaction among Colombian ex-combatants. However, with narrow neural evidence, this study offers a new testimony. A sample of 28 ex-combatants from Colombian illegal armed groups took part in this study, split into 15 for SCT and 13 for the conventional program offered by the Governmental Reintegration Route. All of them were assessed before and after the intervention with a protocol that included an EP task synchronized with electroencephalographic recordings. We drew behavioral scores and brain connectivity (Coherency) metrics from task performance. Behavioral scores yielded no significant effects. Increased post-intervention connectivity in the delta band was observed during negative emotional processing only SCT group. Positive emotions exposed distinctive gamma band connectivity that differentiate groups. These results suggest that SCT can trigger covert neurofunctional reorganization in ex-combatants embarked on the reintegration process even when overt behavioral improvements are not yet apparent. Such covert functional changes may be the neural signature of compensatory mechanisms necessary to reshape behaviors adaptively. This novel framework may inspire cutting-edge translational research at the crossing of neuroscience, sociology, and public policy-making.