The interactive effect of social pain and executive functioning on aggression: an fMRI experiment.

TitleThe interactive effect of social pain and executive functioning on aggression: an fMRI experiment.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsChester DS, Eisenberger NI, Pond RS, Richman SB, Bushman BJ, C Dewall N
JournalSoc Cogn Affect Neurosci
Date Published2014 May
KeywordsAggression, Brain Mapping, Cerebral Cortex, Emotions, Executive Function, Female, Functional Laterality, Gyrus Cinguli, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Social Distance, Stroop Test, Young Adult

Social rejection often increases aggression, but the neural mechanisms underlying this effect remain unclear. This experiment tested whether neural activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and anterior insula in response to social rejection predicted greater subsequent aggression. Additionally, it tested whether executive functioning moderated this relationship. Participants completed a behavioral measure of executive functioning, experienced social rejection while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging and then completed a task in which they could aggress against a person who rejected them using noise blasts . We found that dACC activation and executive functioning interacted to predict aggression. Specifically, participants with low executive functioning showed a positive association between dACC activation and aggression, whereas individuals with high executive functioning showed a negative association. Similar results were found for the left anterior insula. These findings suggest that social pain can increase or decrease aggression, depending on an individual's regulatory capability.

Alternate JournalSoc Cogn Affect Neurosci
PubMed ID23482622
PubMed Central IDPMC4014110
Grant ListDA005312 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States