Social Cognition

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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Peripheral oxytocin predicts higher-level social cognition in men regardless of empathy quotient

Abstract Introduction: Pharmaceutical oxytocin (OT) administration is being tested as a novel treatment for social deficits in various psychiatric populations. However, little is known about how naturally occurring variation in peripheral OT relates to differences in social cognition. This study investigates whether healthy individuals with very high or very low levels of empathy differ in endogenous …

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Sleep to be social: The critical role of sleep and memory for social interaction

Abstract Humans are highly social animals who critically need to remember information from social episodes in order to successfully navigate future social interactions. We propose that such episodic memories about social encounters are processed during sleep, following the learning experience, with sleep abstracting and consolidating social gist knowledge (e.g., beliefs, first impressions, or stereotypes) about …

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Neural correlates of naturalistic social cognition: brain-behavior relationships in healthy adults

Abstract Being able to infer the thoughts, feelings and intentions of those around us is indispensable in order to function in a social world. Despite growing interest in social cognition and its neural underpinnings, the factors that contribute to successful mental state attribution remain unclear. Current knowledge is limited because the most widely used tasks …

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