Happy for Us not Them: Differences in neural activation in a vicarious reward task between family and strangers during adolescent development

Philip Brandner*, Berna Güroğlu, Suzanne van de Groep, Jochem P. Spaans, Eveline A. Crone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

During adolescence social-interactions with other people become more relevant. One key aspect of these interactions is cooperative behavior. Cooperation relies on a set of cognitive and affective mechanisms. In this study, we focused on the mental ability to feel happy for another person's positive experience, called vicarious joy. We investigated the neural mechanisms of this ability using a false-choice vicarious reward fMRI task. Participants played a game where they could win monetary rewards for themselves, their mother, their father, and a stranger. A region-of-interest (ROI) analysis of the Nucleus Accumbens revealed robust activation in this region for personal reward as well as vicarious rewards for both parents. Vicarious reward for a stranger was not associated with activation within the Nucleus Accumbens. ROI activation was associated with self-reported vicarious joy for mother and father. A Prisoner's Dilemma game outside the scanner showed an increase in cooperative behavior until age 14 for parents and strangers, followed by a decline for the stranger but not for the parents. Together, these findings demonstrate that adolescence is an important time for developing ingroup-outgroup relations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100985
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Volume51
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare no conflict of interest. This work was supported by an innovative ideas grant of the European Research Council (ERC CoG PROSOCIAL 681632 to E.A.C.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

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