Social Cognition

The neuroscience of social feelings: mechanisms of adaptive social functioning

Abstract Social feelings have conceptual and empirical connections with affect and emotion. In this review, we discuss how they relate to cognition, emotion, behavior and well-being. We examne the functional neuroanatomy and neurobiology of social feelings and their role in adaptive social functioning. Existing neuroscience literature is reviewed to identify concepts, methods and challenges that …

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No support for oxytocin modulation of reward-related brain function in autism: evidence from a randomized controlled trial

Abstract Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by difficulties in social communication and interaction, which have been related to atypical neural processing of rewards, especially in the social domain. Since intranasal oxytocin has been shown to modulate activation of the brain’s reward circuit, oxytocin could be a useful tool to ameliorate the processing of social …

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Association of stress-related limbic activity and baseline interleukin-6 plasma levels in healthy adults

Abstract There is a bidirectional interaction between peripheral inflammatory processes and the brain. In the context of stress, top-down effects on the immune system have already been studied, but bottom-up effects of peripheral inflammation on neural processes are still unclear. In the present study, baseline plasma levels of the cytokine interleukin (IL)-6 were obtained as …

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Reduced frontal cortical tracking of conflict between selfish versus prosocial motives in Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Abstract Abstract Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) entails severe impariments in interpersonal functioning that are likely driven by selfish and exploitative behavior. Here, we investigate the underlying motivational and neural mechanisms of prosocial decision-making by experimentally manipulating motivational conflict between selfish and prosocial incentives. One group of patients diagnosed with NPD and a group of healthy …

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Selective suppression of rapid eye movement sleep increases next-day negative affect and amygdala responses to social exclusion

Abstract Healthy sleep, positive general affect, and the ability to regulate emotional experiences are fundamental for well-being. In contrast, various mental disorders are associated with altered rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, negative affect, and diminished emotion regulation abilities. However, the neural processes mediating the relationship between these different phenomena are still not fully understood. In …

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Cognitive, affective, and feedback-based flexibility – Disentangling shared and different aspects of three facets of psychological flexibility

Abstract Cognitive flexibility – the ability to adjust one’s behavior to changing environmental demands – is crucial for controlled behavior. However, the term ‘cognitive flexibility’ is used heterogeneously, and associations between cognitive flexibility and other facets of flexible behavior have only rarely been studied systematically. To resolve some of these conceptual uncertainties, we directly compared …

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Spinach in the teeth: How ego- and allocentric perspectives modulate neural correlates of embarrassment in the face of others’ public mishaps

Abstract Humans experience vicarious embarrassment when they observe other’s mishaps in public settings, even when the protagonist is not embarrassed at all. Though neural correlates of vicarious embarrassment have been studied before, it is yet poorly understood how they are influenced by egocentric or allocentric processes of perspective-taking. In the present study we examined the …

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Dissociating empathy from perspective-taking: Evidence from intra- and inter-individual differences research

Abstract Humans have the capacity to share others’ emotions, be they positive or negative. Elicited by the observed or imagined emotion of another person, an observer develops a similar emotional state herself. This capacity, empathy, is one of the pillars of social understanding and interaction as it creates a representation of another’s inner, mental state. …

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Neural mechanisms of affective matching across faces and scenes

Abstract The emotional matching paradigm, introduced by Hariri and colleagues in 2000, is a widely used neuroimaging experiment that reliably activates the amygdala. In the classic version of the experiment faces with negative emotional expression and scenes depicting distressing events are compared with geometric shapes instead of neutral stimuli of the same category (i.e. faces …

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The causal role of the somatosensory cortex in prosocial behaviour

Abstract Witnessing another person’s suffering elicits vicarious brain activity in areas that are active when we ourselves are in pain. Whether this activity influences prosocial behavior remains the subject of debate. Here participants witnessed a confederate express pain through a reaction of the swatted hand or through a facial expression, and could decide to reduce …

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