Control your anger! The neural basis of aggression regulation in response to negative social feedback

Michelle Achterberg*, Anna C.K. van Duijvenvoorde, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Eveline A. Crone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Negative social feedback often generates aggressive feelings and behavior. Prior studies have investigated the neural basis of negative social feedback, but the underlying neural mechanisms of aggression regulation following negative social feedback remain largely undiscovered. In the current study, participants viewed pictures of peers with feedback (positive, neutral or negative) to the participant's personal profile. Next, participants responded to the peer feedback by pressing a button, thereby producing a loud noise toward the peer, as an index of aggression. Behavioral analyses showed that negative feedback led to more aggression (longer noise blasts). Conjunction neuroimaging analyses revealed that both positive and negative feedback were associated with increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) and bilateral insula. In addition, more activation in the right dorsal lateral PFC (dlPFC) during negative feedback vs neutral feedback was associated with shorter noise blasts in response to negative social feedback, suggesting a potential role of dlPFC in aggression regulation, or top-down control over affective impulsive actions. This study demonstrates a role of the dlPFC in the regulation of aggressive social behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-720
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotion regulation
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Social acceptance
  • Social evaluation
  • Social rejection

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