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Anterior cingulate cortex responds differentially to expectancy violation and social rejection


This study investigated human anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) involvement during a task that dissociated expectancy violation from social rejection. Across two studies, participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while making social judgments and receiving fictitious feedback that was either positive or negative and consistent or inconsistent with their expectations. The results demonstrate that the dorsal ACC is sensitive to expectancy violations, whereas the ventral ACC is differentially responsive to social feedback.

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Figure 1: Representation of the subcomponents of a complete trial.
Figure 2: Differential ACC response to expectancy violation and social feedback.


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We thank E. Cross, J. Dobson, T. Johnstone, N. Magoon, T. Moran, J. Van Horn and P. Whalen. Supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (MH59282, MH66720). L.H.S. is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.

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Correspondence to William M Kelley.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Fig. 1

The Region x Expectancy Violation and Region Feedback x Type interactions reported in Figure 1 were independently present in each study. (PDF 96 kb)

Supplementary Table 1

Identification of BOLD signal changes associated with the main effects of expectancy violation and feedback type. (PDF 86 kb)

Supplementary Methods (PDF 103 kb)

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Somerville, L., Heatherton, T. & Kelley, W. Anterior cingulate cortex responds differentially to expectancy violation and social rejection. Nat Neurosci 9, 1007–1008 (2006).

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