Neural substrates of social facilitation effects on incentive-based performance

Vikram S. Chib, Ryo Adachi, John P. O'Doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Throughout our lives wemust perform tasks while being observed by others. Previous studies have shown that the presence of an audience can cause increases in an individual's performance as compared to when they are not being observed-a phenomenon called 'social facilitation'. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this effect, in the context of skilled-task performance for monetary incentives, are not well understood. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to monitor brain activity while healthy human participants performed a skilled-task during conditions in which they were paid based on their performance and observed and not observed by an audience. We found that during social facilitation, social signals represented in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) enhanced reward value computations in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC).We also found that functional connectivity between dmPFC and ventral striatumwas enhanced when participants exhibited social facilitation effects, indicative of a means by which social signals serve tomodulate brain regions involved in regulating behavioral motivation. These findings illustrate how neural processing of social judgments gives rise to the enhanced motivational state that results in social facilitation of incentive-based performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-403
Number of pages13
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Motor
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Reward
  • Social facilitation
  • Ventral striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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