New links between social status and brain activity

November 12, 2013

SAN DIEGO -- New studies released today reveal links between social status and specific brain structures and activity, particularly in the context of social stress. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

Using human and animal models, these studies may help explain why position in social hierarchies strongly influences decision-making, motivation, and altruism, as well as physical and mental health. Understanding social decision-making and social ladders may also aid strategies to enhance cooperation and could be applied to everyday situations from the classroom to the boardroom.

Today's new findings show that: Other recent findings discussed show that: "Social subordination and social instability have been associated with an increased incidence of mental illness in humans," said press conference moderator Larry Young, PhD, of Emory University, an expert in brain functions involved with social behavior. "We now have a better picture of how these situations impact the brain. While this information could lead to new treatments, it also calls on us to evaluate how we construct social hierarchies -- whether in the workplace or school -- and their impacts on human well-being."
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This research was supported by national funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as private and philanthropic organizations. Find more information about decision-making and the social brain at BrainFacts.org.

Society for Neuroscience

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