Neural effects of the social environment


Krabbendam, L., Hooker, C. I., & Aleman, A. (2014). Neural effects of the social environment. Schizophr Bull , 40 (2), 248-51.
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Epidemiological studies have suggested that the association between city upbringing and minority status with risk for schizophrenia can be explained by social mechanisms. Neuroimaging approaches hold promise for investigating this claim. Recent studies have shown that in healthy individuals, city upbringing and minority status are associated with increased activity in brain circuits involved in emotion regulation during social evaluative processing. These findings support the hypothesis that changes in the ability to regulate social stress contribute to the mechanism of risk. This is in accordance with a body of evidence demonstrating the sensitivity of the human brain to social stress, based on observational studies investigating the neurological sequelae of interpersonal trauma and experimental studies manipulating exposure to interpersonal distress. In this report, we summarize these initial findings, discuss methodological and conceptual challenges of pursuing this line of inquiry in schizophrenia, and suggest an outline for future research.

Last updated on 09/08/2014