Repetition suppression of ventromedial prefrontal activity during judgments of self and others

Adrianna C. Jenkins, C. Neil Macrae, Jason P. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

170 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

One useful strategy for inferring others' mental states (i.e., mentalizing) may be to use one's own thoughts, feelings, and desires as a proxy for those of other people. Such self-referential accounts of social cognition are supported by recent neuroimaging observations that a single brain region, ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vMPFC), is engaged both by tasks that require introspections about self and by tasks that require inferences about the minds of others perceived to be similar to self. To test whether people automatically refer to their own mental states when considering those of a similar other, we examined repetition-related suppression of vMPFC response during self-reflections that followed either an initial reflection about self or a judgment of another person. Consistent with the hypothesis that perceivers spontaneously engage in self-referential processing when mentalizing about particular individuals, vMPFC response was suppressed when self-reflections followed either an initial reflection about self or a judgment of a similar, but not a dissimilar, other. These results suggest that thinking about the mind of another person may rely importantly on reference to one's own mental characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4507-4512
Number of pages6
JournalPNAS
Volume105
Issue number11
Early online date17 Mar 2008
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2008

Keywords

  • functional neuroimaging
  • mentalizing
  • self-reference
  • social cognition
  • event-related FMRI
  • biological bias
  • cortex
  • mechanisms
  • memory
  • representation
  • information
  • adaptation
  • projection

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