Neural correlates of giving support to a loved one

  • Inagaki T
  • Eisenberger N
  • 100

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 43

    Citations

    Citations of this article.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Social support may benefit mental and physical well-being, but most research has focused on the receipt, rather than the provision, of social support. We explored the potentially beneficial effects of support giving by examining the neural substrates of giving support to a loved one. We focused on a priori regions of interest in the ventral striatum and septal area (SA) because of their role in maternal caregiving behavior in animals.

METHODS: Twenty romantic couples completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging session in which the female partner underwent a scan while her partner stood just outside the scanner and received unpleasant electric shocks.

RESULTS: Support giving (holding a partner's arm while they experienced physical pain), compared with other control conditions, led to significantly more activity in the ventral striatum, a reward-related region also involved in maternal behavior (p values < .05). Similar effects were observed for the SA, a region involved in both maternal behavior and fear attenuation. Greater activity in each of these regions during support giving was associated with greater self-reported support giving effectiveness and social connection (r values = 0.55-0.64, p values < .05). In addition, in line with the SA's role in fear attenuation (presumably to facilitate caregiving during stress), increased SA activity during support giving was associated with reduced left (r = -0.44, p < .05) and right (r = -0.42, p < .05) amygdala activity.

CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that support giving may be beneficial not only for the receiver but also for the giver. Implications for the possible stress-reducing effects of support giving are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • caregiving
  • fMRI
  • human
  • providing social support
  • septal area
  • ventral striatum

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Authors

  • Tristen K. Inagaki

  • Naomi I. Eisenberger

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free