All other things considered equal, what are the effects of a negative self image, on cognition and brain function?

Are there any studies that would have specific data supporting cognitive outcomes (concentration times, memory, mind body awareness) rather than just pointing to self-esteem?

In addition, what cognitive effect does positive self image have on cognition and brain function? Are there qualities in either of them that are not inverses of the other?


1 Answer 1


Some information that partly answers your questions.

There have been some studies based on these questions, a significant article related to this type of study is Self-esteem, locus of control, hippocampal volume, and cortisol regulation in young and old adulthood (Pruessner et al. 2005).

This article makes the link between self image and the individual's 'locus of control', they found that:

our results clearly demonstrate that self-esteem and locus of control are significantly linked to the volume of the hippocampus in healthy young and elderly subjects. Further, we found evidence that these two factors are also related to the acute and chronic regulation of the major stress hormone in humans, cortisol.

(Note: the authors of the article acknowledge that their data does not allow them to make firm conclusions).

Cortisol affects, amongst other things, memory, learning and concentration. A specific study about this is in the article "Cortisol differentially affects memory in young and elderly men." (Wolf et al. 2001) and "Impaired memory retrieval correlates with individual differences in cortisol response but not autonomic response" (Buchanan et al. 2006). From the second article/study:

[This study] suggest that individual differences in cortisol reactivity affect memory retrieval performance, and help to explain the differential effects of stress on memory.

I will say that this is not the complete picture, but the link between self image and cortisol levels seem to be a major factor about how self image affects cognitive abilities such as learning, memory etc.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.