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Coping with Self-Threat and the Evaluation of Self-Related Traits: An fMRI Study.

Hoefler A, Athenstaedt U, Corcoran K, Ebner F, Ischebeck A - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Our results showed that participants responded slower to negative self-related traits compared to positive self-related traits.We also found that activation in the ACC was negatively correlated with response times, indicating that greater activation of the ACC is linked to better access (faster response) to positive self-related traits and to impaired access (slower response) to negative self-related traits.These results confirm the ACC function as important in managing threatened self-worth but indicate differences in trait self-esteem levels.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria.

ABSTRACT
A positive view of oneself is important for a healthy lifestyle. Self-protection mechanisms such as suppressing negative self-related information help us to maintain a positive view of ourselves. This is of special relevance when, for instance, a negative test result threatens our positive self-view. To date, it is not clear which brain areas support self-protective mechanisms under self-threat. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study the participants (N = 46) received a (negative vs. positive) performance test feedback before entering the scanner. In the scanner, the participants were instructed to ascribe personality traits either to themselves or to a famous other. Our results showed that participants responded slower to negative self-related traits compared to positive self-related traits. High self-esteem individuals responded slower to negative traits compared to low self-esteem individuals following a self-threat. This indicates that high self-esteem individuals engage more in self-enhancing strategies after a threat by inhibiting negative self-related information more successfully than low self-esteem individuals. This behavioral pattern was mirrored in the fMRI data as dACC correlated positively with trait self-esteem. Generally, ACC activation was attenuated under threat when participants evaluated self-relevant traits and even more for negative self-related traits. We also found that activation in the ACC was negatively correlated with response times, indicating that greater activation of the ACC is linked to better access (faster response) to positive self-related traits and to impaired access (slower response) to negative self-related traits. These results confirm the ACC function as important in managing threatened self-worth but indicate differences in trait self-esteem levels. The fMRI analyses also revealed a decrease in activation within the left Hippocampus and the right thalamus under threat. This indicates that a down-regulation of activation in these regions might also serve as coping mechanism in dealing with self-threat.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Group activation differences, whole brain analysis: a) activations for the within-subjects contrast self > other.b) Activations for the between-subjects contrast no-threat > self-threat (negative feedback on the intelligence test result) c) Activations for the between-subjects contrast positive traits > negative traits (self-reference only). All activations are shown for a threshold of p < 0.001 uncorrected, reporting only clusters that have p < 0.05 corrected on cluster level.
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pone.0136027.g004: Group activation differences, whole brain analysis: a) activations for the within-subjects contrast self > other.b) Activations for the between-subjects contrast no-threat > self-threat (negative feedback on the intelligence test result) c) Activations for the between-subjects contrast positive traits > negative traits (self-reference only). All activations are shown for a threshold of p < 0.001 uncorrected, reporting only clusters that have p < 0.05 corrected on cluster level.

Mentions: We first analyzed the within-subjects contrast between processing self- vs. other-related traits. The analyses revealed significant activations in midline cortical areas, including the ACC and the thalamus for self-related traits compared to other-related traits. An overview of the activated areas is given in Table 4 and Fig 4A, whereas the associated coordinates are reported as given by SPM8 (MNI space), corresponding approximately to Talairach & Tournoux space [35,36].


Coping with Self-Threat and the Evaluation of Self-Related Traits: An fMRI Study.

Hoefler A, Athenstaedt U, Corcoran K, Ebner F, Ischebeck A - PLoS ONE (2015)

Group activation differences, whole brain analysis: a) activations for the within-subjects contrast self > other.b) Activations for the between-subjects contrast no-threat > self-threat (negative feedback on the intelligence test result) c) Activations for the between-subjects contrast positive traits > negative traits (self-reference only). All activations are shown for a threshold of p < 0.001 uncorrected, reporting only clusters that have p < 0.05 corrected on cluster level.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4558049&req=5

pone.0136027.g004: Group activation differences, whole brain analysis: a) activations for the within-subjects contrast self > other.b) Activations for the between-subjects contrast no-threat > self-threat (negative feedback on the intelligence test result) c) Activations for the between-subjects contrast positive traits > negative traits (self-reference only). All activations are shown for a threshold of p < 0.001 uncorrected, reporting only clusters that have p < 0.05 corrected on cluster level.
Mentions: We first analyzed the within-subjects contrast between processing self- vs. other-related traits. The analyses revealed significant activations in midline cortical areas, including the ACC and the thalamus for self-related traits compared to other-related traits. An overview of the activated areas is given in Table 4 and Fig 4A, whereas the associated coordinates are reported as given by SPM8 (MNI space), corresponding approximately to Talairach & Tournoux space [35,36].

Bottom Line: Our results showed that participants responded slower to negative self-related traits compared to positive self-related traits.We also found that activation in the ACC was negatively correlated with response times, indicating that greater activation of the ACC is linked to better access (faster response) to positive self-related traits and to impaired access (slower response) to negative self-related traits.These results confirm the ACC function as important in managing threatened self-worth but indicate differences in trait self-esteem levels.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria.

ABSTRACT
A positive view of oneself is important for a healthy lifestyle. Self-protection mechanisms such as suppressing negative self-related information help us to maintain a positive view of ourselves. This is of special relevance when, for instance, a negative test result threatens our positive self-view. To date, it is not clear which brain areas support self-protective mechanisms under self-threat. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study the participants (N = 46) received a (negative vs. positive) performance test feedback before entering the scanner. In the scanner, the participants were instructed to ascribe personality traits either to themselves or to a famous other. Our results showed that participants responded slower to negative self-related traits compared to positive self-related traits. High self-esteem individuals responded slower to negative traits compared to low self-esteem individuals following a self-threat. This indicates that high self-esteem individuals engage more in self-enhancing strategies after a threat by inhibiting negative self-related information more successfully than low self-esteem individuals. This behavioral pattern was mirrored in the fMRI data as dACC correlated positively with trait self-esteem. Generally, ACC activation was attenuated under threat when participants evaluated self-relevant traits and even more for negative self-related traits. We also found that activation in the ACC was negatively correlated with response times, indicating that greater activation of the ACC is linked to better access (faster response) to positive self-related traits and to impaired access (slower response) to negative self-related traits. These results confirm the ACC function as important in managing threatened self-worth but indicate differences in trait self-esteem levels. The fMRI analyses also revealed a decrease in activation within the left Hippocampus and the right thalamus under threat. This indicates that a down-regulation of activation in these regions might also serve as coping mechanism in dealing with self-threat.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus