Naomi I. Eisenberger's research while affiliated with University of California, Los Angeles and other places

Publications (200)

Article
Adolescence is characterized by biological changes in hormonal and circadian systems that, with concurrent psychosocial changes, result in increased sleep disturbances and stress sensitivity. Sleep disturbance has been associated with heightened stress sensitivity and elevated levels of inflammation in adults and adolescents, yet the neural correla...
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Emerging evidence suggests that interleukin (IL)-8 has a protective role in the context of depression. Higher levels of IL-8 are associated with lower depressive symptom severity among depressed patients, and treatment-related increases in IL-8 correlate with a positive response in depressed patients. This study (a secondary analysis of a completed...
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Adolescence is marked by an increased sensitivity to the social environment as youth navigate evolving relationships with family, friends, and communities. Prosocial behavior becomes more differentiated such that older adolescents increasingly give more to known others (e.g., family, friends) than to strangers. This differentiation may be linked wi...
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The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in many disruptions to daily life, including an abrupt increase in social disconnection. As measures were put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, people across the globe began living in states of limited social contact, fostering feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Previous lit...
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Self-enhancement, the tendency to view oneself positively, is a pervasive social motive widely investigated in the psychological sciences. Relatively little is known about the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying this motive, specifically in social-evaluative situations. To investigate whether positive emotion regulation circuitry, circuitry involv...
Article
Objective Research has established links between social isolation and heightened levels of proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., interleukin-6 [IL-6], tumour necrosis factor alpha [TNF-α]). Recent advances allow for the examination of cytokines that may also play a role in antiviral immunity (interferon-gamma [IFN-γ]). The present work explored how vari...
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Parasympathetic nervous system activity can downregulate inflammation, but it remains unclear how parasympathetic nervous system activity relates to antiviral activity. The present study examined associations between parasympathetic nervous system activity and cellular antiviral gene regulation in 90 adolescents (M_(age) = 16.28, SD = 0.73; 51.1% f...
Article
Recent work has revealed that social-support-cues are powerful inhibitors of the fear-response. They are endowed with a unique combination of inhibitory properties, enabling them to both inhibit fear in the short-term and reduce fear in the long-term. While these findings had previously been thought to suggest that social-support-cues belong to a c...
Article
Background Humans are able to discern the health status of others using olfactory and visual cues, and subsequently shift behavior to make infection less likely. However, little is known about how this process occurs. The present study examined the neural regions involved in differentiating healthy from sick individuals using visual cues. Methods...
Article
Recent work has demonstrated that social support figures seem to be particularly robust inhibitors of the Pavlovian fear response. Specifically, social support figures appear to act as prepared safety stimuli, stimuli that have played an important role in mammalian survival and are thus less easily associated with threat and more able to inhibit th...
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Background Although potential links between oxytocin (OT), vasopressin (AVP), and social cognition are well-grounded theoretically, most studies have included all male samples, and few have demonstrated consistent effects of either neuropeptide on mentalizing (i.e. understanding the mental states of others). To understand the potential of either ne...
Article
Individuals regularly face stress, and the manner in which they cope with that stress is a crucial component in predicting stress recovery. While many engage in self-rewarding behaviors to feel better, these behaviors can come with a cost. The current study tested the effect of engaging in a different behavior after experiencing stress-prosocial be...
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Social interactions play an extremely important role in maintaining health and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated physical distancing measures, however, restricted the number of people one could physically interact with on a regular basis. A large percentage of social interactions moved online, resulting in reports of “Zoom fatigue,”...
Preprint
Full-text available
Parasympathetic nervous system activity can downregulate inflammation, but it remains unclear how parasympathetic nervous system activity relates to antiviral activity. The present study examined associations between parasympathetic nervous system activity and cellular antiviral gene regulation in 90 adolescents (Mage = 16.3, SD = 0.7; 51.1% female...
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Full-text available
Parasympathetic nervous system activity can downregulate inflammation, but it remains unclear how parasympathetic nervous system activity relates to antiviral activity. The present study examined associations between parasympathetic nervous system activity and cellular antiviral gene regulation in 90 adolescents (Mage = 16.3, SD = 0.7; 51.1% female...
Article
Full-text available
Parasympathetic nervous system activity can downregulate inflammation, but it remains unclear how parasympathetic nervous system activity relates to antiviral activity. The present study examined associations between parasympathetic nervous system activity and cellular antiviral gene regulation in 90 adolescents (Mage = 16.3, SD = 0.7; 51.1% female...
Article
Comforting touch involves contact distress-alleviating behaviors of an observer towards the suffering of a target. A growing number of studies have investigated the effects of touch on pain attenuation, focusing on the (toucher), the target (comforted) or both. Here we synthesize findings of brain mechanisms underlying comforting touch in the targe...
Chapter
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The pain of rejection is often tied to the way that we interpret how another person thinks or feels about us. In this review, we explore evidence from the current literature to examine the role of mentalizing, the process by which we think about and understand someone else’s thoughts and feelings, in the experience of social rejection. We first tur...
Preprint
Full-text available
Self-enhancement, the tendency to view oneself positively, is a pervasive social motive widely investigated in social and personality psychology. Despite research on the topic over the past several decades, relatively little is known about the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying this motive, specifically in social evaluative situations. To investi...
Article
Background Gratitude has received growing interest as an emotion that can bring greater happiness and health. However, little is known about the effects of gratitude on objective measures of physical health or the neural mechanisms that underlie these effects. Given strong links between gratitude and giving behavior, and giving and health, it is po...
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Objective Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce distress and increase well-being among individuals with chronic disease, including breast cancer survivors. However, the neural correlates of these changes and their links with inflammatory biology are not yet known. The present study examined whether a mindfulness meditation intervention wa...
Article
Studies of inflammation in alcohol use disorder (AUD) are overwhelmingly preclinical, and translation to clinical samples is necessary. Endotoxin administration has been used successfully in humans to study mood disorders, offering a translational, reliable and safe model that may be validated in AUD research. We argue for the use of endotoxin chal...
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Consoling touch is a powerful form of social support that has been repeatedly demonstrated to reduce the experience of physical pain. However, it remains unknown whether touch reduces emotional pain in the same way that it reduces physical pain. The present research sought to understand how handholding with a romantic partner shapes experiences of...
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Despite growing public and scientific interest in the positive benefits of prosociality, there has been little research on the causal effects of performing kind acts for others on psychological well-being during adolescence. Developmental changes during adolescence, such as greater perspective taking, can promote prosociality. It was hypothesized t...
Article
Reminders of loved ones have long been avoided during extinction-based treatments because of their assumed status as safety signals, which, by inhibiting fear in the moment, impair the long-term outcomes of fear extinction. Yet, recent work has demonstrated that in contrast to standard safety signals, social support reminders actually enhance fear...
Article
Decades of research have examined the relationship between social isolation and health. In this entry, we discuss the impact of social isolation on physical health, mental health, and mortality. We also outline some potential behavioral, psychological, and biological mechanisms behind these relationships. Finally, we discuss some interventions that...
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There has been extensive discussion about gender gaps in representation and career advancement in the sciences. However, psychological science itself has yet to be the focus of discussion or systematic review, despite our field's investment in questions of equity, status, well-being, gender bias, and gender disparities. In the present article, we c...
Article
Insomnia is a well-established risk factor for late-life depression, yet the intermediary mechanisms are not known. One plausible mechanism is dysregulation of the reward system, a common feature of depression. The main objective of the current study was to determine whether late-life insomnia is associated with reduced motivation and reduced sensi...
Article
Background Facial emotion perception (FEP) is pivotal for discriminating salient emotional information. Accumulating data indicate that FEP responses, particularly to sad emotional stimuli, are impaired in depression. This study tests whether sleep disturbance and inflammation, two risk factors for depression, contribute to impaired FEP to sad emot...
Chapter
The sixth edition of the foundational reference on cognitive neuroscience, with entirely new material that covers the latest research, experimental approaches, and measurement methodologies. Each edition of this classic reference has proved to be a benchmark in the developing field of cognitive neuroscience. The sixth edition of The Cognitive Neuro...
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Self-affirmation can buffer stress responses across different contexts, yet the neural mechanisms for these effects are unknown. Self-affirmation has been shown to increase activity in reward-related neural regions, including the ventral striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC). Given that reward-related prefrontal cortical regions such...
Article
Across different cultures, social touch is used to alleviate distress. Here we adopt a dual-brain approach with fMRI to examine whether social touch involves similar activations between the suffering ‘target’ and the empathizer in brain regions related to emotional sharing such as the observation-execution (mirror) network. To inspect the neural un...
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...
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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...
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Chronic inflammation in women diagnosed with breast cancer is critically linked with tumor progression, metastasis, and survival. C-reactive protein (CRP)-a circulating marker of inflammation-is an important prognostic marker for cancer-related outcomes in breast cancer survivors (e.g. recurrence, fatigue). Psychological stress, which increases cir...
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...
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Social relationships and emotions are important to health and disease, but research in this area has largely progressed along parallel and distinct historical paths. These areas are critically linked because relationships are among the most powerful elicitors of health-relevant emotions and emotions can in turn influence relationships for better or...
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It has been established that inflammation leads to a variety of changes in social experience, but one area of social experience that has been overlooked is subjective social status. Furthermore, given sex differences in the relationship between inflammation and social status, males may be more sensitive to inflammation-induced changes in social sta...
Article
Background: Anhedonia, or loss of interest or pleasure, is a feature of depression and transdiagnostic construct in psychopathology. Theory and compelling evidence from preclinical models implicates stress-induced inflammation as a psychobiological pathway to anhedonic behavior; however, this pathway has not been tested in human models. Further, a...
Article
Inflammation has an important physiological influence on mood and behavior. Kynurenine metabolism is hypothesized to be a pathway linking inflammation and depressed mood, in part through the impact of kynurenine metabolites on glutamate neurotransmission in the central nervous system. This study evaluated whether the circulating concentrations of k...
Article
Background: The conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA), characterized by increased expression of proinflammatory genes and decreased expression of antiviral and antibody-related genes, is upregulated in the context of chronic adversity and distress and has been linked to cancer progression. Several studies suggest that the CTRA may...
Article
Background: There are robust sex differences in the prevalence of depression. Inflammation and anhedonia may play a role in understanding these sex differences. Indeed, sex differences in inflammation-induced neural responses to reward may provide insight into the sex gaps in depression, but no study has examined this question. Methods: As such,...
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
Objective: Social relationships can both influence and be influenced by immune processes. Past work implicates two distinct pathways along which this interaction may occur: inflammatory processes and antiviral processes. This article reviews how social behavior is modulated by these two immune processes and how such processes may in turn regulate...
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Background Sleep disturbance, as well as inflammation predict depression risk, which may be due to effects of sleep loss and/or inflammation on affect regulation. We hypothesized that partial sleep deprivation (PSD) would impair emotion recognition in older adults, and that elevated levels of inflammation would be associated with such changes in af...
Article
Inflammation plays a significant role in the pathophysiology of depression. However, not all individuals exposed to inflammatory challenge develop depression, and identifying those at risk is necessary to develop targeted monitoring, prevention, and treatment strategies. Within a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study (n = 115), we examin...
Article
Activation of the innate immune system is thought to contribute to depression. Multiple social and behavioral factors are also known to instigate depression. Whether these socio-behavioral factors interact with inflammatory stimuli to alter proinflammatory responses and depressed mood is not known. In 115 healthy adults, social, emotional, and beha...
Article
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...
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A reliable finding from the physical pain literature is that individuals with higher resting (i.e., tonic) blood pressure experience relatively less pain in response to nociceptive stimuli. Converging lines of evidence suggest that biological factors that influence the experience of physical pain may also relate to social pain. An open question, ho...
Article
Although there has been much interest in understanding the effect of gratitude on health-related outcomes, this remains an understudied area of research, particularly regarding mechanisms and measurement of biological outcomes. The present study explored whether a gratitude intervention could reduce inflammatory outcomes and whether this occurred t...
Article
A wealth of evidence has implicated inflammation in the development of depression. Yet, the heterogeneous nature of depression has impeded efforts to understand, prevent, and treat the disease. The purpose of this integrative review is to summarize the connections between inflammation and established core features of depression that exhibit more ho...
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Full-text available
Social rejection is a distressing and painful event that many people must cope with on a frequent basis. Mindfulness - defined here as a mental state of receptive attentiveness to internal and external stimuli as they arise, moment-to-moment - may buffer such social distress. However, little research indicates whether mindful individuals adaptively...
Article
Although at first glance inflammation and social behavior may appear unrelated, research points to an important role for inflammation in shaping social processes. This review summarizes findings in this field, specifically highlighting work that provides support for the idea that inflammation can lead to (1) increases in sensitivity to negative, th...
Preprint
Social rejection is a distressing and painful event that many people must cope with on a frequent basis. Mindfulness – defined here as a mental state of receptive attentiveness to internal and external stimuli as they arise, moment-to-moment – may buffer such social distress. However, little research indicates whether mindful individuals adaptively...
Data
Model with social network size as mediator. (TIFF)
Data
Summary of model with social network size as mediator. (DOCX)
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Recent work suggests that olfactory dysfunction is a strong predictor of five-year mortality in older adults. Based on past work showing: 1) that olfactory dysfunction impairs social functioning and 2) that social ties are linked with mortality, the current work explored whether impairments in social life mediated the relationship between olfactory...
Data
Summary of model with physical closeness as mediator. (DOCX)
Data
Summary of model with emotional closeness as mediator. (DOCX)
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: Socially disconnected individuals have worse health than those who feel socially connected. The mechanisms through which social disconnection influences physiological and psychological outcomes warrant study. The current study tested whether experimental manipulations of social exclusion, relative to inclusion, influenced subsequent cardi...
Article
Although the presence of social-support figures (e.g., close friends and family members) is known to increase feelings of safety, reduce threat responses, and improve health, the route by which these effects occur is not well understood. One explanation is that social-support figures are members of a powerful category of safety signals—prepared saf...
Article
Following treatment of fear-related disorders, return of fear remains a common occurrence. Currently, the presence of safety signals during treatment procedures is considered harmful, yet recent findings have demonstrated that certain safety signals (social-support figures) lead to enhanced fear extinction and thus might reduce return of fear. Here...
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Social support is associated with positive health outcomes, and research has demonstrated that the presence, or even just a reminder, of a social-support figure can reduce psychological and physiological responses to threats. However, the mechanisms underlying this effect are unclear, and no previous work has examined the impact of social support o...
Data
Unpacking the buffering effect of social support supporting materials. (DOCX)
Article
Neuropsychopharmacology accepted article preview online, 25 October 2016. doi:10.1038/npp.2016.245.
Article
Although it has commonly been assumed that the immune system and the processes that govern social behavior are separate, non-communicating entities, research over the past several decades suggests otherwise. Thus, considerable evidence now shows that inflammatory processes and social behavior are actually powerful regulators of one another. This re...
Article
Although fear-conditioning research has demonstrated that certain survival-threatening stimuli, namely prepared fear stimuli, are readily associated with fearful events, little research has explored whether a parallel category exists for safety stimuli. We examined whether social-support figures, who have typically benefited survival, can serve as...
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An emerging literature suggests that experiences of physical warmth contribute to social warmth—the experience of feeling connected to others. Thus, thermoregulatory systems, which help maintain our relatively warm internal body temperatures, may also support feelings of social connection. However, the association between internal body temperature...
Article
Unlabelled: Adults with bipolar disorder (BD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) have higher circulating levels of proinflammatory cytokines than healthy controls. However, it is not known whether pediatric-onset patients with BD or MDD show increases in levels of inflammation or activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), a key transcription f...
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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...
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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
The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is recruited when a person is socially rejected or negatively evaluated. However, it remains to be fully understood how this region responds to repeated exposure to personally-relevant social evaluation, in both healthy populations and those vulnerable to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as well as how re...
Article
Full-text available
The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is recruited when a person is socially rejected or negatively evaluated. However, it remains to be fully understood how this region responds to repeated exposure to personally-relevant social evaluation, in both healthy populations and those vulnerable to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as well as how re...
Article
The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is thought to play a key role in the cognitive control of emotion and has therefore, unsurprisingly, been implicated in the regulation of physical pain perception. This brain region may also influence the experience of social pain, which has been shown to activate similar neural networks as seen in respons...
Article
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Social stratification has important implications for health and well-being, with individuals lower in standing in a hierarchy experiencing worse outcomes than those higher up the social ladder. Separate lines of past research suggest that alterations in inflammatory processes and neural responses to threat may link lower social status with poorer o...
Article
Inflammation, part of the body's innate immune response, can lead to "sickness behaviors," as well as alterations in social and affective experiences. Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines have been associated with increased neural sensitivity to social rejection and social threat, but also decreased neural sensitivity to rewards. However,...