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Sci Rep. 2018 Nov 20;8(1):17141. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34793-x.

The hippocampus underlies the association between self-esteem and physical health.

Author information

1
School of Marxism, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), Beijing, China.
2
Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China.
3
Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, National Demonstration Center for Experimental Psychology Education (Beijing Normal University), Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.
4
Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, National Demonstration Center for Experimental Psychology Education (Beijing Normal University), Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China. songyiying@bnu.edu.cn.
5
Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, National Demonstration Center for Experimental Psychology Education (Beijing Normal University), Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China. liujia@bnu.edu.cn.

Abstract

Self-esteem refers to the extent to which we feel positive or negative about ourselves, and reflects an individual's subjective evaluation of personal worth and attitudes about the self. As one kind of positive psychosocial resources, high self-esteem has been found to buffer the effects of stress on physical health. However, little is known about the possible neural basis underlying the association between physical health and self-esteem. In the present study, we investigated whether the hippocampus served as a neuroanatomical basis for the association between self-esteem and physical health in a large population of healthy young adults. We examined self-esteem and self-reported physical health with the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale (RSES) and the Chinese Constitution Questionnaire (CCQ) respectively, and gray matter volume of the hippocampus was measured using magnetic resonance imaging. As expected, we found that individuals with higher levels of self-esteem had better self-reported physical health. Importantly, the mediation analysis showed that the gray matter volume of the hippocampus mediated the link between self-esteem and physical health, suggesting its critical role in the neural circuitry through which self-esteem is related to physical health.

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