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

Published

Journal Article

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Eisenberger, NI; Inagaki, TK; Muscatell, KA; Byrne Haltom, KE; Leary, MR

Published Date

  • November 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 23 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 3448 - 3455

PubMed ID

  • 21452934

Pubmed Central ID

  • 21452934

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1530-8898

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0898-929X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1162/jocn_a_00027

Language

  • eng