Increased pain communication following multiple group memberships salience leads to a relative reduction in pain-related brain activity

Laura J. Ferris, Jolanda Jetten, Pascal Molenberghs, Brock Bastian, Fika Karnadewi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Pain is a fundamental human experience that triggers a range of social and psychological responses. In this study, we present behavioral and fMRI data to examine the effect of multiple group memberships salience on reported and neural indices of pain. We found that participants expressed higher levels of pain when more social group memberships were salient. This is consistent with the notion that pain itself motivates people to communicate their pain, and more so when multiple psychological resources are salient. In addition, fMRI results reveal an interesting twist: when participants increased their pain reporting as group memberships increased (from one group to four), there was a corresponding relative reduction in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula activation. These results provide evidence for an adaptive response to pain: the more people make use of the social resources at their disposal when experiencing pain, the less pain areas are activated.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0163117
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • social communication
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • pain sensation
  • pain psychology
  • neuroimaging
  • cingulate cortex
  • behavior
  • behavioral and social aspects of health

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