An Investigation of Neurophysiological Responses to Multiple Types of Social Feedback
Funkhouser, Carter J
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The processing of rewarding and social stimuli is important for survival, and abnormal social or reward processing is linked to many psychopathologies. Although most studies examining reward processing have focused on monetary rewards, recent studies have increasingly examined neural reactivity to social rewards. However, almost all of these studies have only examined responses to two types of feedback (e.g., acceptance and rejection). Considering there are multiple types of feedback that people receive from others, only examining responses to acceptance and rejection limits the conclusions that can be drawn about social feedback processing. Additionally, studying multiple neurophysiological measures of reactivity to social feedback has the potential to highlight different neural mechanisms involved in social feedback processing. Therefore, the present study examined event-related potentials (the reward positivity [RewP] and late positive potential [LPP]) and time-frequency measures (delta and theta activity) to acceptance, rejection, and neutral/partial acceptance (N/PAccept) feedback in a sample of 45 undergraduates. We found that the RewP was greater following acceptance compared to rejection and N/PAccept feedback, whereas the LPP was blunted in response to rejection relative to acceptance and N/PAccept feedback. Exploratory analyses suggested the RewP and LPP to the different feedback types were influenced by peer desirability, and the LPP to acceptance was associated with self-reported rejection sensitivity. There were no differences in delta or theta power to the different feedback types. Taken together, these findings have important implications for the understanding of the neurophysiology of social and reward processing.