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The role of medial prefrontal cortex in attributions of emotion in self and other

The role of medial prefrontal cortex in attributions of emotion in self and other

Society for Neuroscience Abstract Viewer & Itinerary Planner : Abstract No 725 16

In the past five years, functional neuroimaging studies have revealed a role for the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (including BA 8, 9, 32) in judging 1) one's own mental states or dispositional traits, 2) the mental states or traits of others, or 3) one's own current emotional state. Although these findings suggest a general purpose mechanism supporting mental state inferences, judgments made for self or other are seldom compared in the context of the same study-which is necessary for determining their reliance on common mechanisms. Furthermore, comparatively few studies have examined attributions about emotion, especially emotions experienced by others in context (as compared to an isolated presentations of facial expressions). The present study sought to directly compare brain regions involved in judging one's own, as compared to another individual's, emotional state. Fourteen participants viewed mixed valence blocks of photos drawn from the International Affective Picture System while whole brain fMRI data were collected. Pre-block cues instructed participants to evaluate either their emotional response to each photo, the emotional state of the central figure in each photo, or whether the photo was taken indoors or outdoors. Contrasts indicated that other judgments relied on a subset of medial PFC and temporal-parietal regions supporting self-evaluation of emotion. These results suggest 1) that self and other evaluation of emotion rely on common mechanisms, and 2) that medial PFC regions uniquely recruited by self judgments may be involved in attention to internal states.

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