Contextual exclusion processing: an fMRI study of rejection in a performance-related context
SourceBrain Imaging and Behavior, 11, 3, (2017), pp. 874-886
Article / Letter to editor
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Brain Imaging and Behavior
SubjectRadboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
Social stress has a major detrimental impact on subjective well-being. Previous research mainly focused on two methods to induce and measure social stress: social exclusion and performance evaluation. For social exclusion researchers frequently focused on the Cyberball task, which in contrast to many psychosocial stress paradigms does not include a performance component. The aim of the current study was to establish an optimized psychosocial stress paradigm by combining both, social exclusion as well as performance evaluation within a single fMRI paradigm. We implemented a modification of the Cyberball task including a performance game (with exclusion and inclusion periods) in addition to the already established exclusion and inclusion periods. This indeed resulted in increased subjective stress in the performance game. Hence, the modified Cyberball version seems to be superior in mapping relevant neural social stress correlates more pronounced and reliably. Exclusion within the performance-related context contrasted to the unmodified exclusion was associated with higher activation in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula. Moreover, the modified exclusion reflected greater social processing in the precuneus, several temporo-parietal and medial prefrontal areas, as suggested by the additional task aspects of social evaluation and social perspective taking. The findings emphasize that public negative evaluation is effective in substantially enlarging and potentiating the distressing effect of exclusion on a subjective as well as on a neural level. This may have a great potential for further experimental research on social stress.
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