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Self-Compassion and Responses to Negative Social Feedback: The Role of Fronto-Amygdala Circuit Connectivity


Parrish, Michael H.; Inagaki, Tristen K.; Muscatell, Keely A.; Haltom, Kate E. B.; Leary, Mark R.; & Eisenberger, Naomi I. (2018). Self-Compassion and Responses to Negative Social Feedback: The Role of Fronto-Amygdala Circuit Connectivity. Self and Identity, 17(6), 723-38.


Self-compassion has been shown to have significant relationships with psychological health and well-being. Despite the increasing growth of research on the topic, no studies to date have investigated how self-compassion relates to neural responses to threats to the self. To investigate whether self-compassion relates to threat-regulatory mechanisms at the neural level of analysis, we conducted a functional MRI study in a sample of college-aged students. We hypothesized that self-compassion would relate to greater negative connectivity between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) and amygdala during a social feedback task. Interestingly, we found a negative correlation between self-compassion and VMPFC-amygdala functional connectivity as predicted; however, this seemed to be due to low levels of self-compassion relating to greater positive connectivity in this circuit (rather than high levels of self-compassion relating to more negative connectivity). We also found significant relationships with multiple subcomponents of self-compassion (Common Humanity, Self-Judgment). These results shed light on how self-compassion might affect neural responses to threat and informs our understanding of the basic psychological regulatory mechanisms linking a lack of self-compassion with poor mental health.


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Journal Article

Journal Title

Self and Identity


Parrish, Michael H.
Inagaki, Tristen K.
Muscatell, Keely A.
Haltom, Kate E. B.
Leary, Mark R.
Eisenberger, Naomi I.

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