Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
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Emotion theory emphasizes the distinction between social vs non-social emotional-processing (E-P) although few functional neuroimaging studies have examined whether the neural systems that mediate social vs non-social E-P are similar or distinct. The present fMRI study of script-driven imagery in 20 women demonstrates that social E-P, independent of valence, more strongly recruits brain regions involved in social- and self-referential processing, specifically the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate/precuneus, bilateral temporal poles, bilateral temporoparietal junction and right amygdala. Functional response within brain regions involved in E-P was also significantly more pronounced during negatively relative to positively valenced E-P. Finally, the effect for social E-P was increased for positive relative to negative stimuli in many of these same regions. Future research directions for social and affective neuroscience are discussed.