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Identifying with fictive characters: structural brain correlates of the personality trait 'fantasy'


Cheetham, Marcus; Hänggi, Jürgen; Jäncke, Lutz (2014). Identifying with fictive characters: structural brain correlates of the personality trait 'fantasy'. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(11):1836-1844.

Abstract

The perception of oneself as absorbed in the thoughts, feelings and happenings of a fictive character (e.g. in a novel or film) as if the character’s experiences were one’s own is referred to as identification. We investigated whether individual variation in the personality trait of identification is associated with individual variation in the structure of specific brain regions, using surface and volume-based morphometry. The hypothesized regions of interest were selected on the basis of their functional role in subserving the cognitive processing domains considered important for identification (i.e. mental imagery, empathy, theory of mind and merging) and for the immersive experience called ‘presence’. Controlling for age, sex, whole-brain volume and other traits, identification covaried significantly with the left hippocampal volume, cortical thickness in the right anterior insula and the left dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, and with gray matter volume in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These findings show that trait identification is associated with structural variation in specific brain regions. The findings are discussed in relation to the potential functional contribution of these regions to identification.

The perception of oneself as absorbed in the thoughts, feelings and happenings of a fictive character (e.g. in a novel or film) as if the character’s experiences were one’s own is referred to as identification. We investigated whether individual variation in the personality trait of identification is associated with individual variation in the structure of specific brain regions, using surface and volume-based morphometry. The hypothesized regions of interest were selected on the basis of their functional role in subserving the cognitive processing domains considered important for identification (i.e. mental imagery, empathy, theory of mind and merging) and for the immersive experience called ‘presence’. Controlling for age, sex, whole-brain volume and other traits, identification covaried significantly with the left hippocampal volume, cortical thickness in the right anterior insula and the left dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, and with gray matter volume in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These findings show that trait identification is associated with structural variation in specific brain regions. The findings are discussed in relation to the potential functional contribution of these regions to identification.

Citations

1 citation in Web of Science®
1 citation in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:26 Nov 2014 11:42
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:32
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1749-5016
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nst179
PubMed ID:24464847

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