Jean-Claude Dreher has invited Frederike Beyer from the University of Lübeck (Germany) to come and give a talk at ISC (Salle du Conseil). She will talk about:
The role of the neural processing of social information in aggression.
Aggressive behavior is an important, but problematic aspect of human social interaction. Up to now, the neural basis of aggression has been mostly investigated in patients and animal models, and more recently also in healthy human samples. In my talk I present results from three studies investigating the effect of provocation on the neural processing of social information and the link between these neural processes and aggressive behavior.
The Taylor Aggression Paradigm (TAP) was used as a measure of aggressive behavior. In the first study, fear potentiation of the startle response, a physiological measure of reactivity to threat, was assessed in healthy female participants who afterwards underwent an fMRI-version of the TAP. Threat reactivity was negatively related to recruitment of the mentalizing network during the confrontation with a provocative opponent in the TAP.
The second study investigated the effect of social exclusion on the neural processing of social information and aggressive behavior. Following exclusion, activity of brain areas associated with the mentalizing and mirror neuron networks was increased in response to negative social stimuli. Reactivity of the right precentral gyrus to negative stimuli mediated the relationship between social exclusion and aggression, suggesting that exclusion leads to increased processing of aversive social information, which in turn increases the risk for aggression.
In the third study, video feedback of the opponent for the TAP was implemented, presenting either neutral or angry facial expressions during the punishment selection. Reactivity of the orbitofrontal cortex to angry expressions was negatively correlated with aggression across subjects, underlining the importance of this area for the learning of non-aggressive behavior through negative social feedback. On a within-subject level, activity of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex was positively associated with aggressive behavior in response to angry facial expressions.