Exclusionary social events are known to cause alterations in neural activity and attention-related processes. However, the precise nature of these neural adjustments remains unknown as previous research has been limited to examining social interactions and exclusionary events as unitary phenomena. To address this limitation, we assessed neural activity during both inclusionary and exclusionary social interactions by examining event-related brain potentials at multiple points within each social event. Our results show an initial enhancement of anterior cingulate cortex-related activation, indexed by the anterior N2, in response to specific exclusionary events followed by an enhanced attentional orienting response, indexed by the P3a, to later segments of each exclusionary event. Decreases in this P3a activation from social inclusion to social exclusion were associated with self-reported increases in anxiety, negative affect, and feelings of depression from inclusion to exclusion. Together, these findings provide novel insights into the dynamic and ongoing neural processes associated with attentional allocation toward social exclusion and the nature of the relationships between neural and behavioral reactions to exclusionary social interactions.
Cognitive Psychology | Social Psychology
Themanson, Jason, "The Ongoing Cognitive Processing of Exclusionary Social Events: Evidence from Event-related Potentials" (2014). Scholarship. 57.