Shared neural representations of self and conjugal family members in Chinese brain
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Human adults share ample experiences with their spouse and offspring. Do these experiences produce shared neural correlates of reflection on oneself and family members? We addressed this issue by scanning 14 Chinese middle-aged married couples, using functional MRI, during personality trait judgments of the self, one’s spouse, one’s child, and a celebrity. We found common activations in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) during trait judgments of the self, spouse, and child compared to a celebrity. Self- and spouse-judgments also elicited overlapping activations in the ventral thalamus and caudate. Female and male participants showed comparable MPFC activity during child-judgments but females exhibited stronger MPFC activity during spouse-judgments compared to males. Our neuroimaging findings suggest that life experiences with conjugal family members during adulthood shape the functional organization of the brain and result in shared neural representations of oneself and conjugal family members during reflection on personality traits.
KeywordsSelf Family fMRI MPFC Ventral thalamus
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 31470986; 31421003; 91332125). We thank Michael Varnum for his helpful comments on this manuscript.
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