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Neuroimage. 2015 Sep;118:248-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.085. Epub 2015 Jun 3.

Social exclusion modulates event-related frontal theta and tracks ostracism distress in children.

Author information

1
Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Brock University, Saint Catharines, ON, Canada.
2
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany; Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States.
3
Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States; Developmental Electrophysiology Laboratory, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States.
4
Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States; Program for Anxiety Disorders, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States; Developmental Electrophysiology Laboratory, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States; Center for Translational Developmental Neuroscience (CTDN), Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States. Electronic address: michael.crowley@yale.edu.

Abstract

Social exclusion is a potent elicitor of distress. Previous studies have shown that medial frontal theta oscillations are modulated by the experience of social exclusion. Using the Cyberball paradigm, we examined event-related dynamics of theta power in the EEG at medial frontal sites while children aged 8-12 years were exposed to conditions of fair play and social exclusion. Using an event-related design, we found that medial frontal theta oscillations (4-8Hz) increase during both early (i.e., 200-400ms) and late (i.e., 400-800ms) processing of rejection events during social exclusion relative to perceptually identical "not my turn" events during inclusion. Importantly, we show that only for the later time window (400-800ms) slow-wave theta power tracks self-reported ostracism distress. Specifically, greater theta power at medial frontal sites to "rejection" events predicted higher levels of ostracism distress. Alpha and beta oscillations for rejection events were unrelated to ostracism distress at either 200-400ms or 400-800ms time windows. Our findings extend previous studies by showing that medial frontal theta oscillations for rejection events are a neural signature of social exclusion, linked to experienced distress in middle childhood.

KEYWORDS:

Children; Event-related spectral perturbations; Medial frontal cortex; Ostracism; Social exclusion; Theta oscillations

PMID:
26048623
PMCID:
PMC4554839
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.05.085
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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