The emerging neuroscience of social punishment: Meta-analytic evidence

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 Jun:113:426-439. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.04.011. Epub 2020 Apr 14.


Social punishment (SOP)-third-party punishment (TPP) and second-party punishment (SPP)-sanctions norm-deviant behavior. The hierarchical punishment model (HPM) posits that TPP is an extension of SPP and both recruit common processes engaging large-scale domain-general brain networks. Here, we provided meta-analytic evidence to the HPM by combining the activation likelihood estimation approach with connectivity analyses and hierarchical clustering analyses. Although both forms of SOP engaged the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and bilateral anterior insula (AI), a functional differentiation also emerged with TPP preferentially engaging social cognitive regions (temporoparietal junction) and SPP affective regions (AI). Further, although both TPP and SPP recruit domain-general networks (salience, default-mode, and central-executive networks), some specificity in network organization was observed. By revealing differences and commonalities of the neural networks consistently activated by different types of SOP, our findings contribute to a better understanding of the neuropsychological mechanisms of social punishment behavior--one of the most peculiar human behaviors.

Keywords: Activation likelihood estimation; Meta-analytic connectivity mapping; Resting-state functional connectivity; Second-party punishment; Social punishment; Third-party punishment.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Punishment*