Description: Prior studies demonstrated contributions of the insula and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) for both experiencing and observing social exclusion, but it is not yet well understood how the brain processes the compensation of exclusion, as is observed in prosocial helping. Here, we tested if social brain regions, specifically the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and temporal parietal junction (TPJ) are involved when individuals show prosocial behavior towards excluded others. For this purpose, 23 female participants played a fourplayer Cyberball Game in which participants could toss balls to each other. During the exclusion game, two players excluded one of the other players. When participants observed exclusion by others, they showed elevated activity in the insula, consistent with prior studies. However, when they tossed the ball to the excluded player, they showed increased activation in the TPJ, consistent with the hypothesis that prosocial behavior is associated with social reasoning. In addition, tossing to the excluded player was associated with increased activity in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Given that prior studies reported that the NAcc is involved in experiencing rewards, this may suggest a warm glow for showing prosocial compensation behavior when helping excluded others.
Related article: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159045
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