The effects of positive or negative self-talk on the alteration of brain functional connectivity by performing cognitive tasks

Junhyung Kim, Joon Hee Kwon, Joohan Kim, Eun Joo Kim, Hesun Erin Kim, Sunghyon Kyeong, Jae Jin Kim

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Self-talk can improve cognitive performance, but the underlying mechanism of such improvement has not been investigated. This study aimed to elucidate the effects of self-talks on functional connectivity associated with cognitive performance. We used the short form of Progressive Matrices Test (sRPM) to measure differences in performance improvements between self-respect and self-criticism. Participants were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging in the following order: baseline, during-sRPM1, post-sRPM1, self-respect or self-criticism, during-sRPM2, and post-sRPM2. Analysis was conducted to identify the self-talks' modulatory effects on the reward-motivation, default mode, and central-executive networks. Increase in sRPM2 score compared to sRPM1 score was observed only after self-criticism. The self-talk-by-repetition interaction effect was not found for during-sRPM, but found for post-sRPM; decreased nucleus accumbens-based connectivity was shown after self-criticism compared with self-respect. However, the significant correlations between the connectivity change and performance change appeared only in the self-respect group. Our findings showed that positive self-talk and negative self-talk differently modulate brain states concerning cognitive performance. Self-respect may have both positive and negative effects due to enhanced executive functions and inaccurate confidence, respectively, whereas self-criticism may positively affect cognitive performance by inducing a less confident state that increases internal motivation and attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14873
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Technology Development Program of MSS (S2800407) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIP) (No. NRF-2016R1A2A2A10921744).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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