Social interactions have a major impact on well-being. While many individuals actively seek social situations, others avoid them, at great cost to their private and professional life. The neural mechanisms underlying individual differences in social approach or avoidance tendencies are poorly understood. Here we estimated people's subjective value of engaging in a social situation. In each trial, more or less socially anxious participants chose between an interaction with a human partner providing social feedback and a monetary amount. With increasing social anxiety, the subjective value of social engagement decreased; amygdala BOLD response during decision-making and when experiencing social feedback increased; ventral striatum BOLD response to positive social feedback decreased; and connectivity between these regions during decision-making increased. Amygdala response was negatively related to the subjective value of social engagement. These findings suggest a relation between trait social anxiety / social avoidance and activity in a subcortical network during social decision-making.
The authors declare that there was no funding for this work.
Human subjects: All subjects gave written informed consent and the ethics committee of the Medical Faculty of the University of Bonn, Germany approved all studies (Approval number: 098/18).
- Christian Büchel, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany
- Received: January 16, 2019
- Accepted: July 21, 2019
- Accepted Manuscript published: July 22, 2019 (version 1)
© 2019, Schultz et al.
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