Matthew Lieberman

Matthew Lieberman
University of California, Los Angeles | UCLA · Department of Psychology

44.93
 · 
PhD

About

217
Publications
73,880
Reads
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22,707
Citations
Introduction
My work involves the application of fMRI to understand social thinking, self-reflection, and emotion regulation
Research Experience
July 2000 - April 2016
University of California, Los Angeles
Position
  • Director, Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory
July 1999 - present
University of California, Los Angeles
Position

Publications

Publications (217)
Article
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The family of neuroimaging analytical techniques known as multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) has dramatically increased in popularity over the past decade, particularly in social and affective neuroscience research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). MVPA examines patterns of neural responses, rather than analyzing single voxel or r...
Article
Approximately half of individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) treated with psychological intervention do not achieve clinically significant improvement or retain long-term gains. Neurobiological models of SAD propose that disruptions in functioning of amygdala-prefrontal circuitry is implicated in short-term treatment response. However, whet...
Article
Objectives: Beliefs about aging can contribute to health and well-being in older adults. Feeling generative, or that one is caring for and contributing to the well-being of others, can also impact health and well-being. In this study, we hypothesized that those with more positive expectations regarding aging (ERA) in the mental health domain would...
Article
Full-text available
CD38 genetic variation has been associated with autism spectrum disorders and social anxiety disorder, which may result from CD38’s regulation of oxytocin secretion. Converging evidence has found that the rs3796863 A-allele contributes to increased social sensitivity compared to the CC genotype. The current study examined the moderating role of CD3...
Article
Generativity, or concern for and contribution to the well-being of younger generations, plays an important role in successful aging. The purpose of this study was to develop a novel, writing-based intervention to increase feelings of generativity and test the effect of this intervention on well-being and inflammation in a sample of older women. Par...
Article
Background: Social cognitive impairments, specifically in mentalizing and emotion recognition, are common and debilitating symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite this, little is known about the neurobiology of these impairments, as there are currently no published neuroimaging investigations of social inference in PTSD. Methods...
Preprint
Social and affective neuroscience studies the neurophysiological underpinnings of psychological experience and behavior as it relates to the world around us. Yet, most neuroimaging methods require the removal of participants from their rich environment and the restriction of meaningful interaction with stimuli. In this Tools of the Trade article, w...
Article
Traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety disorders has been designed to target reductions in negative affect (NA) associated with defense-related processes. However, a subset of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (SAD), are also characterized by low positive affect (PA) resulting from separate deficits in appetit...
Article
The medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) has been posited to serve a variety of social, affective, and cognitive functions. These conclusions have largely been driven by forward inference analyses (e.g. GLM fMRI studies and meta-analyses) that indicate where domain-specific tasks tend to produce activity but tell us little about what those regions do. H...
Article
Research examining oxytocin and vasopressin in humans has the potential to elucidate neurobiological mechanisms underlying human sociality that have been previously unknown or not well characterized. A primary goal of this work is to increase our knowledge about neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders characterized by impairments in social cog...
Article
Self-referential processing is critical to understanding social anxiety disorder (SAD). This study examined neural differences in self-referential processing in healthy controls (HC) and participants with SAD at pre- and post-treatment. Participants (n = 64) underwent fMRI scanning while viewing a video of themselves (“Self”) or another person (“Ot...
Preprint
Background: Social impairments, specifically in mentalizing and emotion recognition, are common and debilitating symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite this, little is known about the neural underpinnings of these impairments, as there have been no published neuroimaging investigations of social inference in PTSD. Methods: Trauma...
Article
The large majority of social neuroscience research uses WEIRD populations—participants from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic locations. This makes it difficult to claim whether neuropsychological functions are universal or culture specific. In this study, we demonstrate one approach to addressing the imbalance by using portab...
Preprint
Full-text available
The large majority of social neuroscience research uses WEIRD populations – participants from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic locations. This makes it difficult to claim whether neuropsychological functions are universal or culture specific. In this study, we demonstrate one approach to addressing the imbalance by using port...
Article
Does tweeting your feelings change how you feel? A study of over a billion tweets shows that we tend to tweet about our feelings after they have escalated. However, such ‘affect labeling’ tweets — even though they are constrained to 140 characters — lead to rapid reductions in the intensity of our emotions.
Article
The false consensus effect (FCE) – the tendency to (erroneously) project our attitudes and opinions onto others – is an enduring bias in social reasoning with important societal implications. In this fMRI investigation, we examine the neural correlates of within-subject variation in consensus bias on a variety of social and political issues. Bias d...
Article
Self-transcendence refers to a shift in mindset from focusing on self-interests to the well-being of others. We offer an integrative neural model of self-transcendence in the context of persuasive messaging by examining the mechanisms of self-transcendence in promoting receptivity to health messages and behavior change. Specifically, we posited tha...
Article
This paper will examine the conscious aspects of emotion (i.e. emotional experience), arguably the defining features of emotion. I will argue that emotion IS emotional experience and, consequently, that emotion researchers rarely study emotion itself. I will suggest a research agenda for examining the conscious aspects of emotion and end with a con...
Article
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Background: Although psychological treatments for social anxiety disorder (SAD) can be highly effective, many individuals do not respond to treatment. Identifying factors associated with improved outcomes can facilitate individualized treatment choices. We investigated whether patterns of neural connectivity predicted treatment responses and wheth...
Article
Objectives The Social Brain Hypothesis posits a quantitative relationship between primate neocortex size and social network size. However, the precise social-cognitive mechanisms that drive this relationship remain elusive. Social Working Memory (SWM)—the ability to actively maintain and manipulate social information—has been proposed as a potentia...
Poster
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Treatment-related changes in functional connectivity during incidental emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder may predict lasting therapeutic success. Changes in amygdala connectivity with dmPFC and ACC through treatment may be related to strengthened emotion regulation, in turn promoting better long-term outcomes.
Article
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Activity in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) during persuasive messages predicts future message-consistent behavior change, but there are significant limitations to the types of persuasion processes that can be invoked inside an MRI scanner. For instance, real world persuasion often involves multiple people in conversation. Functional near infrared...
Article
Brain regions engaged during social inference, medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and tempoparietal junction (TPJ), are also known to spontaneously engage during rest. While this overlap is well known, the social cognitive function of engaging these regions during rest remains unclear. Building on past research suggesting that new information is commi...
Article
Putting feelings into words, or “affect labeling,” can attenuate our emotional experiences. However, unlike explicit emotion regulation techniques, affect labeling may not even feel like a regulatory process as it occurs. Nevertheless, research investigating affect labeling has found it produces a pattern of effects like those seen during explicit...
Article
Humans have a tendency to think about themselves. What generates this self-focus? One clue may come from the observation that the same part of the brain that supports self-reflection-the medial pFC (MPFC/Brodmann's area 10 [BA 10])-also spontaneously engages by default whenever the brain is free from external demands to attention. Here, we test the...
Article
Full-text available
Affect labeling (putting feelings into words) is a form of incidental emotion regulation that could underpin some benefits of expressive writing (i.e. writing about negative experiences). Here, we show that neural responses during affect labeling predicted changes in psychological and physical well-being outcome measures 3 months later. Furthermore...
Article
Women tend to be portrayed in a sexualized or domestic manner in mainstream advertising; importantly this trend holds not only for ads targeting men but also for those targeting women themselves. Such a focus on sexualized portrayals in particular may not seem strategic given a wealth of evidence suggesting that women evaluate these portrayals quit...
Article
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized at a neurobiological level by disrupted activity in emotion regulation neural circuitry. Previous work has demonstrated amygdala hyperreactivity and disrupted prefrontal responses to social cues in individuals with SAD (Kim et al., 2011). While exposure-based psychological treatments effectively reduce...
Article
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Objectives: Although cortical midline structures (CMS) are the most commonly identified neural foundations of self-appraisals, research is beginning to implicate the temporal-parietal junction (TPJ) in more interdependent self-construals. The goal of this study was to extend this research in an understudied population by (a) examining both direct...
Article
The false consensus effect (FCE), the tendency to project our attitudes and opinions on to others, is a pervasive bias in social reasoning with a range of ramifications for individuals and society. Research in social psychology has suggested that numerous factors (anchoring and adjustment, accessibility, motivated projection, etc.) may contribute t...
Article
Previous research has often highlighted hyperactivity in emotion regions to simple, static social threat cues in social anxiety disorder (SAD). Investigation of the neurobiology of SAD using more naturalistic paradigms can further reveal underlying mechanisms and how these relate to clinical outcomes. We used fMRI to investigate responses to novel...
Article
Objective: Prioritizing self-transcendent values such as family and friends, over non-transcendent values such as wealth and privilege, is associated with lower stress response. In this study, we tested whether having self-transcendent values can reduce specific responses in the brain in the context of potentially threatening health communications...
Article
Background: Exaggerated anticipatory anxiety is common in social anxiety disorder (SAD). Neuroimaging studies have revealed altered neural activity in response to social stimuli in SAD, but fewer studies have examined neural activity during anticipation of feared social stimuli in SAD. The current study examined the time course and magnitude of ac...
Article
Adolescence is a period of learning, exploration, and continuous adaptation to fluctuating environments. Response variability during adolescence is an important, understudied, and developmentally-appropriate behavior. The purpose of this study was to identify the association between performance on a dynamic risky decision making task and white matt...
Article
Designing persuasive content is challenging, in part because people can be poor predictors of their actions. Medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) activation during message exposure reliably predicts downstream behavior, but past work has been largely atheoretical. We replicated past results on this relationship and tested two additional framing effects...
Article
Self-report evidence suggests that consumers prefer green products (i.e. pro-environmental) to standard products, but this is not reflected in purchase behaviors. To understand this disconnect, we exposed participants in an MRI scanner to green and standard ads. After viewing each ad, participants rated liking and perceived sustainability. Ratings...
Article
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Over the last half century, lesion and single-unit recording studies across multiple species converge on the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) as central to pain processing (1⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓–7). Our response (i) identifies a flaw in Wager et al.’s analysis (8) that underestimates the dACC’s contribution to pain and (ii) presents dACC-wide posterior pro...
Article
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Individuals with social anxiety are characterized by a high degree of social sensitivity, which can coincide with impairments in social cognitive functioning (e.g., theory of mind). Oxytocin and vasopressin have been shown to improve social cognition, and oxytocin has been theorized as a potential therapeutic agent for individuals with social anxie...
Article
Parental depression is a significant risk factor for adolescents' engagement in risk taking. Yet the neural processes that mediate the link between parental depression and adolescents' functioning remain unknown. Using a longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design, we investigated how parental depression is associated with chan...
Article
Despite the importance of perspective taking for navigating the social world, even healthy adults frequently misinterpret what other people think and feel. Yet, to date, no research examines whether perspective-taking accuracy can be improved among healthy adult samples. Building off of work suggesting that social working memory (SWM) capacity (i.e...
Article
Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) activation is commonly observed in studies of pain, executive control, conflict monitoring, and salience processing, making it difficult to interpret the dACC's specific psychological function. Using Neurosynth, an automated brainmapping database [of over 10,000 functional MRI (fMRI) studies], we performed qu...
Article
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Self-affirmation theory posits that people are motivated to maintain a positive self-view and that threats to perceived self-competence are met with resistance. When threatened, self-affirmations can restore self-competence by allowing individuals to reflect on sources of self-worth, such as core values. Many questions exist, however, about the und...
Article
Unlabelled: Adolescence is a critical developmental phase during which risk-taking behaviors increase across a variety of species, raising the importance of understanding how brain changes contribute to such behaviors. While the prefrontal cortex is thought to influence adolescent risk taking, the specific ways in which it functions are unclear. U...
Article
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Recent work has identified ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) as a key region predicting whether people will change their behavior in response to persuasive messages. Moreover, a parallel and complementary area of research has examined sociocultural factors that contribute to successful behavior change. In the current paper we aim to integrat...
Article
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During the transformative period of adolescence, social influence plays a prominent role in shaping young people's emerging social identities, and can impact their propensity to engage in prosocial or risky behaviors. In the present study, we examine the neural correlates of social influence from both parents and peers, two important sources of inf...
Research
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Abstract. To date, no study has developed laboratory methods to manipulate relationship-specific attachment styles within real romantic dyads. Using novel methods, we manipulated relationship-specific anxious attachment (RSAA) and tested a central attachment-theoretic research question—that uncertainty in expected partner responsiveness contributes...
Article
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Despite the known importance of sleep for brain development, and the sharp increase in poor sleep during adolescence, we know relatively little about how sleep impacts the developing brain. We present the first longitudinal study to examine how sleep during adolescence is associated with white matter integrity. We find that greater variability in s...
Article
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Engaging social working memory (SWM) during effortful social cognition has been associated with neural activation in two neurocognitive systems: the medial frontoparietal system and the lateral frontoparietal system (Meyer, Spunt, Berkman, Taylor & Lieberman, 2012). However, the respective roles played by these systems in SWM remain unknown. Result...
Article
Lay intuitions suggest that the ability to share, celebrate, and enjoy others’ positive emotions—a phenomenon we term positive empathy—bolsters individual well-being and relationship strength. However, it is unclear from the current literature whether (i) positive empathy is distinct from highly related constructs and (ii) whether positive empathy...
Article
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Expressive disclosure regarding a stressful event improves psychological and physical health, yet predictors of these effects are not well established. The current study assessed exposure, narrative structure, affect word use, self-affirmation and discovery of meaning as predictors of anxiety, depressive and physical symptoms following expressive w...
Article
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Health communications can be an effective way to increase positive health behaviors and decrease negative health behaviors; however, those at highest risk are often most defensive and least open to such messages. For example, increasing physical activity among sedentary individuals affects a wide range of important mental and physical health outcom...
Article
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Humans readily adopt an intentional stance to other people, comprehending their behavior as guided by unobservable mental states such as belief, desire, and intention. We used fMRI in healthy adults to test the hypothesis that this stance is primed by the default mode of human brain function present when the mind is at rest. We report three finding...
Article
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Social connection is a fundamental human need. As such, people's brains are sensitized to social cues, such as those carried by language, and to promoting social communication. The neural mechanisms of certain key building blocks in this process, such as receptivity to and reproduction of social language, however, are not known. We combined quantit...
Article
Although research on theory of mind has strongly implicated the dorsomedial pFC (incuding medial BA 8 and BA 9), the unique contributions of medial pFC (MPFC; corresponding to medial BA 10) to mentalizing remain uncertain. The extant literature has considered the possibility that these regions may be specialized for self-related cognition or for re...
Article
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Objective To assess the relationship between session-by-session mediators and treatment outcomes in traditional cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for social anxiety disorder. Method Session-by-session changes in negative cognitions (a theorized mediator of CBT) and experiential avoidance (a theorized me...
Article
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The current study examined whether writing content related to self-enhancing (viz., downward social comparison and situational attributions) and self-improving (viz., upward social comparison and persistence) motivations were differentially related to expressive writing outcomes among 17 Asian American and 17 European American participants. Content...
Article
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An essential component of youths' successful development is learning to appropriately respond to emotions, including the ability to recognize, identify, and describe one's feelings. Such emotional competence is thought to arise through the parent-child relationship. Yet, the mechanisms by which parents transmit emotional competence to their childre...
Article
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Objective: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an empirically supported treatment for social phobia. However, not all individuals respond to treatment and many who show improvement do not maintain their gains over the long-term. Thus, alternative treatments are needed. Method: The current study (N = 87) was a 3-arm randomized clinical trial co...
Article
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Working memory (WM) refers to mental processes that enable temporary retention and manipulation of information, including information about other people ("social working memory"). Previous studies have demonstrated that nonsocial WM is supported by dopamine neurotransmission. Here, we investigated in 131 healthy adults whether dopamine is similarly...
Article
Social phobia (SP) has been associated with amygdala hyperreactivity to fear-relevant stimuli. However, little is known about the neural basis of SP individuals' capacity to down-regulate their responses to such stimuli and how such regulation varies as a function of comorbid depression and anxiety. We completed an fMRI study wherein SP participant...
Article
Adolescents' peer culture plays a key role in the development and maintenance of risk-taking behavior. Despite recent advances in developmental neuroscience suggesting that peers may increase neural sensitivity to rewards, we know relatively little about how the quality of peer relations impact adolescent risk taking. In the current 2-year three-wa...
Article
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The pursuit of happiness and reward is an impetus for everyday human behavior and the basis of well-being. Although optimal well-being may be achieved through eudaimonic activities (e.g., meaning and purpose), individuals tend to orient toward hedonic activities (e.g., pleasure seeking), potentially placing them at risk for ill-being. We implemente...
Article
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Emotion regulation is commonly characterized as involving conscious and intentional attempts to change felt emotions, such as, for example, through reappraisal whereby one intentionally decreases the intensity of one's emotional response to a particular stimulus or situation by reinterpreting it in a less threatening way. However, there is growing...
Article
Two competing views implicate interdependence in empathy. One suggests that interdependence may generally enhance empathy (Woltin et al., British Journal of Social Psychology 50:553–562, 2011), whereas another suggests that interdependence enhances empathy for targets with whom one is in a relationship, at the cost of decreasing empathy for strange...