4 years ago

Dissociable patterns of brain activity for mentalizing about known others: A role for attachment.

Laurita AC, Spreng RN, Hazan C
The human brain tracks dynamic changes within the social environment, forming and updating representations of individuals in our social milieu. This mechanism of social navigation builds an increasingly complex map of persons with whom we are familiar and form attachments to guide adaptive social behaviors. We examined the neural representation of known others along a continuum of attachment using fMRI. Heterosexual adults (N = 29, 16 females), in romantic relationships for more than two years, made trait judgments for a romantic partner, parent, close friend, familiar acquaintance, and self during scanning. Multivariate analysis, partial least squares, was used to identify whole-brain patterns of brain activation associated with trait judgments of known others across a continuum attachment. Across conditions, trait judgments engaged the default network and lateral prefrontal cortex. Judgments about oneself and a partner were associated with a common activation pattern encompassing anterior and middle cingulate, posterior superior temporal sulcus, as well as anterior insula. Parent and close friend judgments engaged medial and anterior temporal lobe regions. These results provide novel evidence that mentalizing about known familiar others results in differential brain activity. We provide initial evidence that the representation of adult attachment is a distinguishing feature of these differences.

Publisher URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28407150

DOI: PubMed:28407150

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