The image above, from Scientific American, illustrates fMRI findings of brain activity differences over social rejectoin.

Some new research indicates that may be true even if the drinkers say they don’t feel the social rejection more than others.

The new research studied brain responses, via fMRI, and found increased response in one area of the brain, and decreased response in another, versus the control group:

When they looked at the results, they found that both groups, the alcohol dependent and the controls, felt the same amount of social exclusion during the exclusion part of the game. But their fMRI responses showed some major differences. All participants saw increases in activity in the cingulate cortex and ventral prefrontal cortex during social exclusion. But the alcohol dependent patients showed less ventral prefrontal cortex activity than controls, and also showed additional increased activity in the insula.

Two caveats should apply. One is the small size of the study, in terms of numbers observed, and the other is that fMRIs aren’t anywhere near a perfect representation of human mental activity.

That said, this does have food for thought.