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Neural dynamics of pride and shame in social context: an approach with event-related brain electrical potentials


The neural underpinnings of social emotions such as pride and shame are largely unknown. The present study aims to add evidence by exploiting the advantage of event-related brain electrical potentials (ERP) to examine the neural processes as they unfold over time. For this purpose, a dot-estimation task was adapted to explore these emotions as elicited in a simulated social context. Pride prompted an early negativity seemingly originated in medial parietal regions (precuneus) and possibly reflecting social comparison processes in successful trials. This was followed by a late positivity originated in medial frontal regions, probably reflecting the verification of singularly successful trials. Shame, in turn, elicited an early negativity apparently originated in the cuneus, probably related to mental imagery of the social situation. It was followed by a late positivity mainly originated in the same regions as the early negativity for pride, then conceivably reflecting social comparison processes, in this occasion in unsuccessful trials. None of these fluctuations correlated with self-reported feelings of either emotion, suggesting that they instead relate to social cognitive computations necessary to achieve them. The present results provide a dynamic depiction of neural mechanisms underlying these social emotions, probing the necessity to study them using an integrated approach with different techniques.

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Correspondence to Jose Sánchez-García.

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Sánchez-García, J., Rodríguez, G.E., Hernández-Gutiérrez, D. et al. Neural dynamics of pride and shame in social context: an approach with event-related brain electrical potentials. Brain Struct Funct 226, 1855–1869 (2021).

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  • ERP
  • Pride
  • Shame
  • Social emotions
  • Medial frontal areas
  • Cuneus
  • Precuneus