Experiencing and observing social exclusion and inclusion, as well as prosocial behavior, are important aspects of social relationships in childhood. However, it is currently unknown to what extent these processes and their neural correlates differ in heritability. We investigated influences of genetics and environment on experiencing social exclusion and compensating for social exclusion of others with the Prosocial Cyberball Game using fMRI in a twin sample (aged 7–9; N = 500). Neuroimaging analyses (N = 283) revealed that experiencing possible selfexclusion resulted in activity in inferior frontal gyrus and medial prefrontal cortex, which was influenced by genetics and unique environment. Experiencing self-inclusion was associated with activity in anterior cingulate cortex, insula and striatum, but this was not significantly explained by genetics or shared environment. We found that children show prosocial compensating behavior when observing social exclusion. Prosocial compensating behavior was associated with activity in posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus, and showed unique environmental effects or measurement error at both behavioral and neural level. Together, these findings show that in children neural activation for experiencing possible self-exclusion and self-inclusion, and for displaying prosocial compensating behavior, is accounted for by unique environmental factors and measurement error, with a small genetic effect on possible self-exclusion.

Social exclusion, Prosocial behavior, fMRI, Childhood, Heritability
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2018.05.010, hdl.handle.net/1765/126666
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

van der Meulen, M., Steinbeis, N., Achterberg, M., van IJzendoorn, M.H, & Crone, E.A.M. (2018). Heritability of neural reactions to social exclusion and prosocial compensation in middle childhood. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 34, 42–52. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2018.05.010