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Lending a hand: social regulation of the neural response to threat.

Psychological Science

psychology, Stress, Psychological, Spouses, Social Support, Social Behavior, Personal Satisfaction, Marriage, Male, statistics & numerical data, methods, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Humans, Female, physiology, Emotions, Electric Stimulation, Cues, Brain Mapping, anatomy & histology, Brain, Adult

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      Abstract

      Social contact promotes enhanced health and well-being, likely as a function of the social regulation of emotional responding in the face of various life stressors. For this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, 16 married women were subjected to the threat of electric shock while holding their husband's hand, the hand of an anonymous male experimenter, or no hand at all. Results indicated a pervasive attenuation of activation in the neural systems supporting emotional and behavioral threat responses when the women held their husband's hand. A more limited attenuation of activation in these systems occurred when they held the hand of a stranger. Most strikingly, the effects of spousal hand-holding on neural threat responses varied as a function of marital quality, with higher marital quality predicting less threat-related neural activation in the right anterior insula, superior frontal gyrus, and hypothalamus during spousal, but not stranger, hand-holding.

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      Most cited references 34

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        Measuring Dyadic Adjustment: New Scales for Assessing the Quality of Marriage and Similar Dyads

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            Author and article information

            Journal
            10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01832.x
            17201784

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