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Emotion. 2007 Nov;7(4):745-54.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging responses relate to differences in real-world social experience.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Although neuroimaging techniques have proven powerful in assessing neural responses, little is known about whether scanner-based neural activity relates to real-world psychological experience. A joint functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)/experience-sampling study investigated whether individual differences in neurocognitive reactivity to scanner-based social rejection related to: (a) moment-to-moment feelings of social rejection during real-world social interactions ("momentary social distress") and (b) the extent to which these momentary feelings corresponded with end-of-day global assessments of social disconnection ("end-of-day social disconnection"). Individuals who showed greater activity in regions associated with affective and pain processing (dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala, periaqueductal gray) during scanner-based social rejection reported feeling greater momentary social distress during their daily social interactions. In contrast, individuals who showed greater activity in regions associated with memory and self-referential memory encoding (hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex) showed a stronger correspondence between momentary social distress and end-of-day social disconnection, such that greater momentary social distress was associated with greater end-of-day social disconnection. These findings complement previous work showing a dissociation between momentary and retrospective reports of affect and suggest that these processes rely on dissociable neural systems.

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