Social exclusion refers to the experience of rejection by one or more people during a social event and can induce pain-related sensations. Cyberball, a computer program, is one of the most common tools for analyzing social exclusion. Regions of the brain that underlie social pain include networks linked to the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Specifically, self-directed negative socially induced exclusion is associated with changes in DLPFC activity. Direct manipulation of this area may provide a better understanding of how the DLPFC can influence the perception of social exclusion and determine a causal role of the DLPFC. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was applied to both the left and right DLPFC to gauge different reactions to the Cyberball experience. It was found that there were elevated exclusion indices following right DLPFC rTMS; participants consistently felt more excluded when the right DLPFC was excited. This may relate to greater feelings of social pain when the right DLPFC is manipulated. These data demonstrate that direct manipulation of the DLPFC results in changes in responses to social exclusion.
- social exclusion
- social pain