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Right supramarginal gyrus is crucial to overcome emotional egocentricity bias in social judgments


Silani, Giorgia; Lamm, Claus; Ruff, Christian C; Singer, Tania (2013). Right supramarginal gyrus is crucial to overcome emotional egocentricity bias in social judgments. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(39):15466-76.

Abstract

Humans tend to use the self as a reference point to perceive the world and gain information about other people's mental states. However, applying such a self-referential projection mechanism in situations where it is inappropriate can result in egocentrically biased judgments. To assess egocentricity bias in the emotional domain (EEB), we developed a novel visuo-tactile paradigm assessing the degree to which empathic judgments are biased by one's own emotions if they are incongruent to those of the person we empathize with. A first behavioral experiment confirmed the existence of such EEB, and two independent fMRI experiments revealed that overcoming biased empathic judgments is associated with increased activation in the right supramarginal gyrus (rSMG), in a location distinct from activations in right temporoparietal junction reported in previous social cognition studies. Using temporary disruption of rSMG with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation resulted in a substantial increase of EEB, and so did reducing visuo-tactile stimulation time as shown in an additional behavioral experiment. Our findings provide converging evidence from multiple methods and experiments that rSMG is crucial for overcoming emotional egocentricity. Effective connectivity analyses suggest that this may be achieved by early perceptual regulation processes disambiguating proprioceptive first-person information (touch) from exteroceptive third-person information (vision) during incongruency between self- and other-related affective states. Our study extends previous models of social cognition. It shows that although shared neural networks may underlie emotional understanding in some situations, an additional mechanism subserved by rSMG is needed to avoid biased social judgments in other situations.

Abstract

Humans tend to use the self as a reference point to perceive the world and gain information about other people's mental states. However, applying such a self-referential projection mechanism in situations where it is inappropriate can result in egocentrically biased judgments. To assess egocentricity bias in the emotional domain (EEB), we developed a novel visuo-tactile paradigm assessing the degree to which empathic judgments are biased by one's own emotions if they are incongruent to those of the person we empathize with. A first behavioral experiment confirmed the existence of such EEB, and two independent fMRI experiments revealed that overcoming biased empathic judgments is associated with increased activation in the right supramarginal gyrus (rSMG), in a location distinct from activations in right temporoparietal junction reported in previous social cognition studies. Using temporary disruption of rSMG with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation resulted in a substantial increase of EEB, and so did reducing visuo-tactile stimulation time as shown in an additional behavioral experiment. Our findings provide converging evidence from multiple methods and experiments that rSMG is crucial for overcoming emotional egocentricity. Effective connectivity analyses suggest that this may be achieved by early perceptual regulation processes disambiguating proprioceptive first-person information (touch) from exteroceptive third-person information (vision) during incongruency between self- and other-related affective states. Our study extends previous models of social cognition. It shows that although shared neural networks may underlie emotional understanding in some situations, an additional mechanism subserved by rSMG is needed to avoid biased social judgments in other situations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:15 September 2013
Deposited On:01 Nov 2013 16:44
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 23:20
Publisher:Society for Neuroscience
ISSN:0270-6474
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1488-13.2013
PubMed ID:24068815

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