Basic psychological needs including autonomy, competence, and relatedness can be affected by the level of life satisfaction. The current research aimed to elucidate differences in the association of these needs and functional connectivity of reward processing and emotion regulation between individuals with high and low life satisfaction. A total of 83 young adults were divided into the high life satisfaction (HLS) and low life satisfaction (LLS) groups and were scanned for 5-min resting-state fMRI. A seed-to-voxel analysis was performed using the seeds of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), medial orbitofrontal cortex, subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC), insula, and amygdala. Analysis of covariance was conducted to test differences in the association of basic psychological needs and functional connectivity between the two groups. Connectivity strengths between the NAcc and right ventromedial prefrontal cortex and between the sgACC and left ventromedial prefrontal cortex were higher in the HLS group as the autonomy and relatedness scores increased, respectively, whereas in the LLS group as they decreased. Connectivity strengths between the NAcc and right midcingulate cortex and between the sgACC and left fusiform gyrus were higher in the HLS group as the competence and relatedness scores decreased, respectively, but in the LLS group as they increased. These findings suggest that individuals’ perceived life satisfaction affects the relationship between the neural mechanism for reward processing and emotion regulation and basic psychological needs support. Psychological need satisfactions seem to have an emotional impact by acting as a contradictory brain mechanism between individuals with high and low life satisfaction.
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