THURSDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Your social status
affects how your brain reacts to other people, researchers have
In the new study, brain activity in volunteers was measured
using functional MRI. Those with higher socioeconomic status
experienced increased brain activity when shown information about
others at their social level, while people with lower socioeconomic
status had greater response to others like them, the investigators
The heightened activity occurred in an area called the ventral
striatum, a main part of the brain's "values" system, according to
the report published in the April 28 online edition of the journal
"The way we interact with and behave around other people is often determined by their social status relative to our own, and therefore information regarding social status is very valuable to us," study author Caroline Zink, of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, said in a journal news release. "Interestingly, the value we assign to information about someone's particular status seems to depend on our own status."
The findings have important implications for our social behavior
and social lives, according to Zink.
She noted that a person's socioeconomic status, which is based
on factors such as habits and accomplishments as well as monetary
value -- can change, and it's not clear how the brain responds to
However, she added, "As humans, we have the capacity to assess
our surroundings and context to determine appropriate feelings and
behavior. We, and our brain's activity, are not static and can
adjust depending on the circumstances. As one's status changes, I
would expect that the value we place on status-related information
from others and corresponding brain activity in the ventral
striatum would also change."
The American Psychological Association has more about