Having a word with yourself: neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance

Olivia Longe, Frances A. Maratos, Paul Gilbert, Gaynor Evans, Faye Volker, Helen Rockliff, Gina Rippon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Self-criticism is strongly correlated with a range of psychopathologies, such as depression, eating disorders and anxiety. In contrast, self-reassurance is inversely associated with such psychopathologies. Despite the importance of self-judgements and evaluations, little is known about the neurophysiology of these internal processes. The current study therefore used a novel fMRI task to investigate the neuronal correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance. Participants were presented statements describing two types of scenario, with the instruction to either imagine being self-critical or self-reassuring in that situation. One scenario type focused on a personal setback, mistake or failure, which would elicit negative emotions, whilst the second was of a matched neutral event. Self-criticism was associated with activity in lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) regions and dorsal anterior cingulate (dAC), therefore linking self-critical thinking to error processing and resolution, and also behavioural inhibition. Self-reassurance was associated with left temporal pole and insula activation, suggesting that efforts to be self-reassuring engage similar regions to expressing compassion and empathy towards others. Additionally, we found a dorsal/ventral PFC divide between an individual's tendency to be self-critical or self-reassuring. Using multiple regression analyses, dorsolateral PFC activity was positively correlated with high levels of self-criticism (assessed via self-report measure), suggesting greater error processing and behavioural inhibition in such individuals. Ventrolateral PFC activity was positively correlated with high self-reassurance. Our findings may have implications for the neural basis of a range of mood disorders that are characterised by a preoccupation with personal mistakes and failures, and a self-critical response to such events.
LanguageEnglish
Pages1849-1856
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroimage
Volume49
Issue number2
Early online date18 Sep 2009
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2010

Fingerprint

Prefrontal Cortex
Psychopathology
Diagnostic Self Evaluation
Neurophysiology
Gyrus Cinguli
Mood Disorders
Self Report
Emotions
Anxiety
Regression Analysis
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Depression
Self-Assessment
Inhibition (Psychology)

Keywords

  • brain
  • brain mapping
  • emotions
  • female
  • humans
  • imagination
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • oxygen
  • prefrontal cortex
  • psychological tests
  • regression analysis
  • self concept
  • self-assessment
  • young adult

Cite this

Longe, O., Maratos, F. A., Gilbert, P., Evans, G., Volker, F., Rockliff, H., & Rippon, G. (2010). Having a word with yourself: neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance. Neuroimage, 49(2), 1849-1856. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.09.019
Longe, Olivia ; Maratos, Frances A. ; Gilbert, Paul ; Evans, Gaynor ; Volker, Faye ; Rockliff, Helen ; Rippon, Gina. / Having a word with yourself : neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance. In: Neuroimage. 2010 ; Vol. 49, No. 2. pp. 1849-1856.
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Longe, O, Maratos, FA, Gilbert, P, Evans, G, Volker, F, Rockliff, H & Rippon, G 2010, 'Having a word with yourself: neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance' Neuroimage, vol. 49, no. 2, pp. 1849-1856. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.09.019

Having a word with yourself : neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance. / Longe, Olivia; Maratos, Frances A.; Gilbert, Paul; Evans, Gaynor; Volker, Faye; Rockliff, Helen; Rippon, Gina.

In: Neuroimage, Vol. 49, No. 2, 15.01.2010, p. 1849-1856.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Longe O, Maratos FA, Gilbert P, Evans G, Volker F, Rockliff H et al. Having a word with yourself: neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance. Neuroimage. 2010 Jan 15;49(2):1849-1856. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.09.019