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: Hormones impact stress, memories, and understanding social cues

Related Stories

Hormones impact stress, memories, and understanding social cues

November 11, 2013
Research released today demonstrates unexpected roles that sex hormones may play in the cognitive function of females, including memory and interpreting social cues. Additionally, a chemical identified in pregnant mice may ...

Studies pinpoint specific brain areas and mechanisms associated with depression and anxiety

November 11, 2013
Research released today reveals new mechanisms and areas of the brain associated with anxiety and depression, presenting possible targets to understand and treat these debilitating mental illnesses. The findings were presented ...

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

November 10, 2013
Physical and chemical changes in the brain during development can potentially play a role in some delinquent and deviant behaviors, according to research released today. Studies looking at the underlying mechanisms that influence ...

Understanding ourselves by studying the animal kingdom

November 12, 2013
Research released today reveals a new model for a genetic eye disease, and shows how animal models—from fruit flies to armadillos and monkeys—can yield valuable information about the human brain. The findings were presented ...

Our relationship with food: What drives us to eat and new insights into eating disorders

November 13, 2013
A growing body of evidence shows the impact of diet on brain function, and identifies patterns of brain activity associated with eating disorders such as binge eating and purging. The findings were presented at Neuroscience ...

Studies explore potential origins of addiction and treaments

November 12, 2013
Studies released today suggest promising new treatments for nicotine and heroin addiction, and further our understanding of pathological gambling and heroin abuse in those suffering chronic pain. This new knowledge, released ...

Recommended for you

Little understood cell helps mice see color

December 14, 2017
Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered that color vision in mice is far more complex than originally thought, opening the door to experiments that could potentially lead to new treatments ...

Scientists chart how brain signals connect to neurons

December 14, 2017
Scientists at Johns Hopkins have used supercomputers to create an atomic scale map that tracks how the signaling chemical glutamate binds to a neuron in the brain. The findings, say the scientists, shed light on the dynamic ...

Journaling inspires altruism through an attitude of gratitude

December 14, 2017
Gratitude does more than help maintain good health. New research at the University of Oregon finds that regularly noting feelings of gratitude in a journal leads to increased altruism.

Activating MSc glutamatergic neurons found to cause mice to eat less

December 13, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers working at the State University of New York has found that artificially stimulating neurons that exist in the medial septal complex in mouse brains caused test mice to eat less. In ...

Gene mutation causes low sensitivity to pain

December 13, 2017
A UCL-led research team has identified a rare mutation that causes one family to have unusually low sensitivity to pain.

Scientists discover blood sample detection method for multiple sclerosis

December 13, 2017
A method for quickly detecting signs of multiple sclerosis has been developed by a University of Huddersfield research team.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JVK
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.

http://figshare.c...n/763317
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

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.