Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 330–345

The precuneus and the insula in self-attributional processes

Authors

    • Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyPhilipps University of Marburg
  • Martin Pyka
    • Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyPhilipps University of Marburg
    • Mercator Research Group “Structure of Memory”Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr-Universität
  • Stephanie Mehl
    • Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyPhilipps University of Marburg
  • Bernhard W. Müller
    • Clinic for Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of Duisburg-Essen
  • Stephanie Loos-Jankowiak
    • Clinic for Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of Duisburg-Essen
  • Georg Winterer
    • Cologne Center for Genomics (CCG)University of Cologne
  • Wolfgang Wölwer
    • Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyMedical Faculty, University of Düsseldorf
  • Francesco Musso
    • Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyMedical Faculty, University of Düsseldorf
  • Stefan Klingberg
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Tübingen
  • Alexander M. Rapp
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Tübingen
  • Karin Langohr
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Tübingen
  • Georg Wiedemann
    • Medical Center Fulda, Hospital for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
    • Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyGoethe-University
  • Jutta Herrlich
    • Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyGoethe-University
  • Henrik Walter
    • Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyCharité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Mitte
  • Michael Wagner
    • Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of Bonn
  • Knut Schnell
    • Department of General PsychiatryUniversity of Heidelberg
  • Kai Vogeley
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Cologne
    • Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Cognitive Neurology Section INM3Research Center Jülich
  • Hanna Kockler
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Cologne
  • Nadim J. Shah
    • Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Medical Imaging Physics INM4Research Centre Jülich
    • Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, JARARWTH Aachen University
  • Tony Stöcker
    • Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Medical Imaging Physics INM4Research Centre Jülich
  • Renate Thienel
    • Priority Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience & Mental HealthUniversity of Newcastle
  • Katharina Pauly
    • Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatic MedicineMedical School, RWTH Aachen University
  • Axel Krug
    • Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyPhilipps University of Marburg
  • Tilo Kircher
    • Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyPhilipps University of Marburg
Article

DOI: 10.3758/s13415-012-0143-5

Cite this article as:
Cabanis, M., Pyka, M., Mehl, S. et al. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci (2013) 13: 330. doi:10.3758/s13415-012-0143-5

Abstract

Attributions are constantly assigned in everyday life. A well-known phenomenon is the self-serving bias: that is, people’s tendency to attribute positive events to internal causes (themselves) and negative events to external causes (other persons/circumstances). Here, we investigated the neural correlates of the cognitive processes implicated in self-serving attributions using social situations that differed in their emotional saliences. We administered an attributional bias task during fMRI scanning in a large sample of healthy subjects (n = 71). Eighty sentences describing positive or negative social situations were presented, and subjects decided via buttonpress whether the situation had been caused by themselves or by the other person involved. Comparing positive with negative sentences revealed activations of the bilateral posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). Self-attribution correlated with activation of the posterior portion of the precuneus. However, self-attributed positive versus negative sentences showed activation of the anterior portion of the precuneus, and self-attributed negative versus positive sentences demonstrated activation of the bilateral insular cortex. All significant activations were reported with a statistical threshold of p ≤ .001, uncorrected. In addition, a comparison of our fMRI task with data from the Internal, Personal and Situational Attributions Questionnaire, Revised German Version, demonstrated convergent validity. Our findings suggest that the precuneus and the PCC are involved in the evaluation of social events with particular regional specificities: The PCC is activated during emotional evaluation, the posterior precuneus during attributional evaluation, and the anterior precuneus during self-serving processes. Furthermore, we assume that insula activation is a correlate of awareness of personal agency in negative situations.

Keywords

Attribution theory Self-serving bias Self-attributional processes Precuneus Insula

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013