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June 2014

The Social Brain, Stress, and Psychopathology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • 2Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(6):622-624. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.288

Social discrimination can have pervasive effects on human health and performance. This notion is a major thread binding together findings in social psychology, health psychology, and epidemiology. From a psychiatric perspective, it may also be critical for a more complete etiological picture of psychopathology. Social influences can be subtle but powerful. For example, priming racial identity can influence physiological measures of threat and performance on benchmark tests like the Scholastic Aptitude Test.1,2 As emphasized in the article by Akdeniz et al,3 ethnic minority immigrants are at greater risk than their native counterparts for schizophrenia,4 and this risk may extend to other mental and physical health disorders.5 To fully understand, prevent, and treat schizophrenia and other brain disorders, we need to understand the relationships between social context, stress, and brain health that cut across diverse psychiatric and neurological conditions.

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