The Effect of Criticism on Functional Brain Connectivity and Associations with Neuroticism

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

22 Citaten (Scopus)
189 Downloads (Pure)


Neuroticism is a robust personality trait that constitutes a risk factor for psychopathology, especially anxiety disorders and depression. High neurotic individuals tend to be more self-critical and are overly sensitive to criticism by others. Hence, we used a novel resting-state paradigm to investigate the effect of criticism on functional brain connectivity and associations with neuroticism. Forty-eight participants completed the NEO Personality Inventory Revised (NEO-PI-R) to assess neuroticism. Next, we recorded resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) during two sessions. We manipulated the second session before scanning by presenting three standardized critical remarks through headphones, in which the subject was urged to please lie still in the scanner. A seed-based functional connectivity method and subsequent clustering were used to analyse the resting state data. Based on the reviewed literature related to criticism, we selected brain regions associated with self-reflective processing and stress-regulation as regions of interest. The findings showed enhanced functional connectivity between the clustered seed regions and brain areas involved in emotion processing and social cognition during the processing of criticism. Concurrently, functional connectivity was reduced between these clusters and brain structures related to the default mode network and higher-order cognitive control. Furthermore, individuals scoring higher on neuroticism showed altered functional connectivity between the clustered seed regions and brain areas involved in the appraisal, expression and regulation of negative emotions. These results may suggest that the criticized person is attempting to understand the beliefs, perceptions and feelings of the critic in order to facilitate flexible and adaptive social behavior. Furthermore, multiple aspects of emotion processing were found to be affected in individuals scoring higher on neuroticism during the processing of criticism, which may increase their sensitivity to negative social-evaluation.

Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's14
TijdschriftPLoS ONE
Nummer van het tijdschrift7
StatusPublished - 26-jul-2013

Citeer dit