Behavioral and psychiatric correlates of brain responses to social feedback

Brent I. Rappaport, Autumn Kujawa, Kodi B. Arfer, Samantha Pegg, Danielle Kelly, Joshua J. Jackson, Joan L. Luby, Deanna M. Barch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maladaptive responses to peer acceptance and rejection arise in numerous psychiatric disorders in adolescence; yet, homogeneity and heterogeneity across disorders suggest common and unique mechanisms of impaired social function. We tested the hypothesis that social feedback is processed similarly to other forms of feedback (e.g., monetary) by examining the correspondence between the brain's response to social acceptance and rejection and behavioral performance on a separate reward and loss task. We also examined the relationship between these brain responses and depression and social anxiety severity. The sample consisted of one hundred and thirteen 16–21-year olds who received virtual peer acceptance/rejection feedback in an event-related potential (ERP) task. We used temporospatial principal component analysis and identified a component consistent with the reward positivity (RewP) or feedback negativity (FN). RewP to social acceptance was not significantly related to reward bias or the FN to social rejection related to loss avoidance. The relationship between RewP and depression severity, while nonsignificant, was of a similar magnitude to prior studies. Exploratory analyses yielded a significant relationship between lower socioeconomic status (SES) and blunted RewP and between lower SES and heightened loss avoidance and blunted reward bias. These findings build on prior work to improve our understanding of the function of the brain's response to social feedback, while also suggesting a pathway for further study, whereby poverty leads to depression via social and reward learning mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14413
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • ERPs < methods
  • RewP
  • adolescents < groups studied
  • social factors < content/topics
  • socioeconomic status
  • young adults < groups studied


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