Neural & Inflammatory Responses to Discrimination

              Another area of research in the lab explores how being stereotyped or discriminated against because of one’s race may contribute to health. This line of work seeks answers to questions such as: Does the brain respond differently to social feedback depending upon if the person who is providing it is from our same background?

Another area of research in the lab explores how being stereotyped or discriminated against because of one’s race may contribute to health. This line of work seeks answers to questions such as: Does the brain respond differently to social feedback depending upon if the person who is providing it is from our same background?

Along these lines, we are currently wrapping-up a neuroimaging study of African American adults, to examine how the brain responds to negative feedback (i.e., “You seem very likely to have done illegal drugs”) from an out-group member (in this case, a White confederate). I am also collecting cheek swabs from participants to examine inflammatory responses to this simulated experience of discrimination. Results from this on-going study will speak to how being treated negatively because of one’s race affect the brain and the body, which will shed additional light on the mechanisms underlying racial disparities in health. This project will also provide preliminary data for a larger grant proposal I will submit to conduct a similar study in a larger sample that will incorporate more sophisticated inflammatory assessments. More broadly, the task I developed for this study will serve as a springboard for future research, as it is easily adaptable to examine the neural underpinnings of cross-race social interactions in other important contexts (e.g., stereotype threat in an academic context, doctor-patient communication in a healthcare setting).