Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Early neuroimaging studies using Cyberball suggested that social rejection activated the pain matrix, as identified in studies of physical pain. However, these early studies were characterized by small sample sizes. Our statistical multi-level kernel density analysis (MKDA) of Cyberball neuroimaging studies with 244 participants fails to support the claim that social rejection operates on the same pain matrix as nociceptive stimuli, questioning whether social pain is more figurative or literal. We also performed an MKDA of the neuroimaging studies of reliving a romantic rejection to test whether the pain matrix was activated if the rejection were more meaningful. Results again failed to support the notion that rejection activates the neural matrix identified in studies of physical pain. Reliving an unwanted rejection by a romantic partner was significantly characterized by activation within and beyond the “Cyberball” brain network, suggesting that the neural correlates of social pain are more complex than previously thought.
Digital Commons Citation
Cacioppo, Stephanie; Frum, Chris; Asp, Erik; Weiss, Robin M.; Lewis, James W.; and Cacioppo, John T., "A Quantitative Meta-Analysis of Functional Imaging Studies of Social Rejection" (2013). Faculty & Staff Scholarship. 2625.
Cacioppo, S., Frum, C., Asp, E. et al. A Quantitative Meta-Analysis of Functional Imaging Studies of Social Rejection. Sci Rep 3, 2027 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep02027