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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2014 Nov;9(11):1676-83. doi: 10.1093/scan/nst158. Epub 2013 Oct 7.

Individual differences in posterior cortical volume correlate with proneness to pride and gratitude.

Author information

1
Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1440, USA, Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, UK, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Unit, Institute-D'Or, 22280-080 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing (M573), Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia, and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 60611, USA Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1440, USA, Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, UK, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Unit, Institute-D'Or, 22280-080 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing (M573), Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia, and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 60611, USA.
2
Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1440, USA, Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, UK, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Unit, Institute-D'Or, 22280-080 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing (M573), Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia, and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 60611, USA Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1440, USA, Department of Psychological Medicine, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, UK, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Unit, Institute-D'Or, 22280-080 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing (M573), Centre for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia, and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 60611, USA jgrafman@ric.org.

Abstract

Proneness to specific moral sentiments (e.g. pride, gratitude, guilt, indignation) has been linked with individual variations in functional MRI (fMRI) response within anterior brain regions whose lesion leads to inappropriate behaviour. However, the role of structural anatomical differences in rendering individuals prone to particular moral sentiments relative to others is unknown. Here, we investigated grey matter volumes (VBM8) and proneness to specific moral sentiments on a well-controlled experimental task in healthy individuals. Individuals with smaller cuneus, and precuneus volumes were more pride-prone, whereas those with larger right inferior temporal volumes experienced gratitude more readily. Although the primary analysis detected no associations with guilt- or indignation-proneness, subgenual cingulate fMRI responses to guilt were negatively correlated with grey matter volumes in the left superior temporal sulcus and anterior dorsolateral prefrontal cortices (right >left). This shows that individual variations in functional activations within critical areas for moral sentiments were not due to grey matter volume differences in the same areas. Grey matter volume differences between healthy individuals may nevertheless play an important role by affecting posterior cortical brain systems that are non-critical but supportive for the experience of specific moral sentiments. This may be of particular relevance when their experience depends on visuo-spatial elaboration.

KEYWORDS:

emotion; individual differences; moral emotion; neuroanatomy; social cognition

PMID:
24106333
PMCID:
PMC4221203
DOI:
10.1093/scan/nst158
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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