New links between social status and brain activity

November 13, 2013

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 strongly influences decision-making, motivation, and altruism, as well as physical and . 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:

  • Adult rats living in disrupted environments produce fewer new than rats in stable societies, supporting theories that unstable conditions impair mental health and cognition (Maya Opendak, abstract 85.11, see attached summary).
  • People who have many friends have certain brain regions that are bigger and better connected than those with fewer friends. It's unknown whether their brains were predisposed to social engagement or whether larger social networks prompted brain development (Maryann Noonan, PhD, abstract 667.11, see attached summary).
  • In situations where monkeys can potentially cooperate to improve their mutual reward, certain groups of brain cells work to accurately predict the responses of other monkeys (Keren Haroush, PhD, abstract 668.08, see attached summary).
  • Following extreme , enhancing brain changes associated with depression can have ananti-depressant effect in mice (Allyson Friedman, PhD, abstract 504.05, see attached summary).

Other recent findings discussed show that:

  • Defeats heighten sensitivity to social hierarchies and may exacerbate brain activity related to social anxiety (Romain Ligneul, presentation 186.12, see attached speaker summary).

"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."

Explore further: New evidence on the biological basis of highly impulsive and aggressive behaviors

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1 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2013
This model of systems biology represents the conservation of bottom-up organization and top-down activation via the 1) thermodynamics of nutrient stress-induced and social stress-induced intracellular changes in the microRNA / messenger RNA (miRNA/mRNA) balance; 2) intermolecular changes in DNA (genes) and alternative splicing; 3) non-random experience-dependent stochastic variations in de novo gene expression and biosynthesis of odor receptors; 4) the required gene-cell-tissue-organ-organ system pathway that links sensory input directly to gene activation in neurosecretory cells and to miRNA-facilitated learning and memory in the amygdala of the adaptively evolved mammalian brain; and 5) the reciprocity that links the thermodynamics of gene expression to behavior and altered organism-level thermoregulation in species from microbes to man.

Parag Jasani
1 / 5 (2) Nov 15, 2013
This discovery confirms my explanation of how other people are processed in the brain. More here http://www.whatis.../CR.aspx

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