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Sci Rep. 2019 Sep 5;9(1):12800. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49239-1.

Brain responses to social punishment: a meta-analysis.

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Centre for Cognition and Decision Making, Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation.


Many studies suggest that social punishment is beneficial for cooperation and consequently maintaining the social norms in society. Neuroimaging and brain stimulation studies show that the brain regions which respond to violations of social norms, the understanding of the mind of others and the executive functions, are involved during social punishment. Despite the rising number of studies on social punishment, the concordant map of activations - the set of key regions responsible for the general brain response to social punishment - is still unknown. By using coordinate-based fMRI meta-analysis, the present study examined the concordant map of neural activations associated with various social punishment tasks. A total of 17 articles with 18 contrasts including 383 participants, equalling 191 foci were included in activation likelihood estimation (ALE) analysis. The majority of the studies (61%) employed the widely used neuroeconomic paradigms, such as fairness-related norm tasks (Ultimatum Game, third-party punishment game), while the remaining tasks reported criminal scenarios evaluation and social rejection tasks. The analysis revealed concordant activation in the bilateral claustrum, right interior frontal and left superior frontal gyri. This study provides an integrative view on brain responses to social punishment.

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