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J Cogn Neurosci. 2011 Nov;23(11):3448-55. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00027. Epub 2011 Mar 31.

The neural sociometer: brain mechanisms underlying state self-esteem.

Author information

1
University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA. neisenbe@ucla.edu

Abstract

On the basis of the importance of social connection for survival, humans may have evolved a "sociometer"-a mechanism that translates perceptions of rejection or acceptance into state self-esteem. Here, we explored the neural underpinnings of the sociometer by examining whether neural regions responsive to rejection or acceptance were associated with state self-esteem. Participants underwent fMRI while viewing feedback words ("interesting," "boring") ostensibly chosen by another individual (confederate) to describe the participant's previously recorded interview. Participants rated their state self-esteem in response to each feedback word. Results demonstrated that greater activity in rejection-related neural regions (dorsal ACC, anterior insula) and mentalizing regions was associated with lower-state self-esteem. Additionally, participants whose self-esteem decreased from prescan to postscan versus those whose self-esteem did not showed greater medial prefrontal cortical activity, previously associated with self-referential processing, in response to negative feedback. Together, the results inform our understanding of the origin and nature of our feelings about ourselves.

PMID:
21452934
DOI:
10.1162/jocn_a_00027
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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