The Social Environment Impact: Functional Neuroanatomy of Grief and Perceived Discrimination in South Asian Women in the United States
AuthorSeeley, Saren H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAlthough several studies have characterized common and unique neural circuitry associated with social and non-social emotions, none to date have attempted to differentiate between social emotions that occur in very different contexts. Grieving the death of a loved one and being a target of perceived discrimination may implicate potentially distinct social processes (e.g., attachment versus affiliation). When examined separately, prior neuroimaging research has shown that both grief and perceived discrimination involved diffuse brain regions implicated variously in social stress processing and emotion, however no studies to date have directly compared these experiences. In the present study, we examined neural correlates of grief and perceived discrimination among South Asian women (n = 10), using an idiographic emotional imagery task. Grief-related imagery elicited activation in the precuneus, midbrain, dorsal striatum, and thalamocingulate regions, consistent with previous neuroimaging studies of grief and attachment. Participants showed greater activation in the anterior cingulate, hippocampus, occipital cortex, and cerebellum during Grief relative to Discrimination. We observed dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) activation in Discrimination>Neutral, which may reflect greater self-regulatory effort involved in coping with discrimination experiences. Greater temporal pole and amygdala activation in the Discrimination condition were associated with greater lifetime perceived discrimination, poorer self-reported physical health, and more depressive symptoms. Results of this pilot study suggest that there are observable differences in the brain response to these two types of social stressors, suggesting future directions for a more fine-grained view of the mechanisms through which the social environment may influence health and well-being.
Degree ProgramGraduate College