Chronic loneliness predicts mood disturbances and onset of major depressive disorder. However, little research has examined the neural correlates of individual difference in susceptibility to perceiving loneliness. In addition, the role of cerebellum, which is heavily implicated in social, cognitive and affective processes, in loneliness is unclear. We studied 99 healthy individuals divided into susceptible, concordant and robust groups depending on whether the participant’s loneliness level was greater, comparable or less than her/his objective social isolation level. The cerebellar gray matter structure, functional activity and connectivity patterns during performing an emotion stroop task were examined. We found greater posterior and medial cerebellar volume in the susceptible group than the other groups. In addition, the posterior and medial cerebellar activities when processing positive versus neutral words exhibited significant interactive effects of both loneliness and social network, and susceptibility to isolation. Loneliness and social network also had positive effects on the right posterior cerebellar functional connectivity with the visual and premotor cortices. Our findings provide novel evidence on the intricate role of the cerebellum in loneliness and susceptibility to isolation, suggesting that socio-cognitive processes of the cerebellum in the hedonic domain may be a key mechanism underlying loneliness proneness. Copyright © 2019 The Author(s).
CitationWong, N. M. L., Shao, R., Wu, J., Tao, J., Chen, L., & Lee, T. M. C. (2019). Cerebellar neural markers of susceptibility to social isolation and positive affective processing. Brain Structure and Function, 224, 3339-3351. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-019-01965-y
- Social network
- Voxel-based morphometry
- Psycho-physiological interaction