ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (6): 807-813.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.00807

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The Motivational Hierarchy between Self and Mother: Evidence from the Feedback-related Negativity

ZHU Xiangru1; ZHANG Yan1; YANG Suyong2; WU Haiyan3; WANG Lili4; GU Ruolei3   

  1. (1 Institute of Psychology and Behavior, Henan University, Kaifeng 475001, China) (2 Department of Psychology, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai 200438, China) (3 Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy Sciences, Beijing 100101, China) (4 School of Educational Science, Huaiyin Normal University, Huai’an 223300, China)
  • Received:2014-09-03 Published:2015-06-25 Online:2015-06-25
  • Contact: GU Ruolei, E-mail:


Self not only represents individual distinctiveness, but also internalizes and integrates with closed others, such as mother. The importance of closed others for self conception is shaped by culture difference, which could be reflected on the neural level. For instance, previous studies on Western people have observed significant difference in the activation of medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) between the judgment of self and that of mother, which is a region involved in self-relevant processing. In contrast, for East Asians, there is a shared neural representation between self and mother in Chinese people. However, it remains unknown whether self and mother have the same motivational hierarchy among East Asians. Eighteen college students (22.1 ± 0.8 years of age, ranged 20~24, 10 males) participated in this study. Informed consent was obtained prior to the experiment. All had normal vision (with correction), and none had a history of neurological disease or brain injury. All of them were right-handed. The subjects were paid for their participation. The subjects were asked to finish the simple gambling task. Each trial started with a 3000 ms presentation of the a notice about the beneficiary of the ongoing bet (i.e. either ‘for yourself’, ‘for your mother’ or ‘for stranger’). The subjects were told that the stranger was someone selected from the subject pool. Each participant was paid 20 Chinese yuan for their participation. In the gambling task, there was a separate account for each beneficiary. Based on the gained points for each beneficiary, the final revenue or losses were added to the separate account. Finally, the money were put on the mother's or stranger's cell phone. The current findings replicated the well-established ERP pattern that losses evoked a larger FRN than gain in the gambling task. Also, the FRN amplitude was sensitive to the beneficiary factor. That is, the FRN was larger when the subjects made choices on behalf of themselves and their mothers than for strangers, but there was no significant difference between self and mother conditions. These ERP results provided evidence that self and mother share the same motivational hierarchy in Chinese brain.

Key words: self, mother, motivational hierarchy, feedback-related negativity