The Medial Prefrontal Cortex (MPFC) is crucial for normal social functioning in humans. Because of its involvement in social monitoring, self-awareness, and self-enhancement, the MPFC may be critical to buffering negative affect and establishing a positive self-esteem. For example, we have previously found that disruption of the MPFC leads to more honest responses, which implies that the MPFC may be critically involved in self-deception. We therefore hypothesized that disrupting the MPFC would lead to a decrease in affect. Employing a virtual lesion TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) technique, we disrupted the MPFC while participants rated their mood based on two anchor affect terms. During TMS, the participants rated their current emotional mental state. Compared to sham TMS, it was found that mood was reduced immediately following single-pulse MPFC stimulation. The results supported the hypothesis the MPFC mood reduction occurs when the MPFC is disrupted. Because this study replicated the conditions employed in previous self-deception studies, we suggest that the results may indicate that lack of self-enhancement may lead to a decrease in mood. Further studies should examine this possibility.
- social neuroscience