Brain networks of affective mentalizing revealed by the tear effect: The integrative role of the medial prefrontal cortex and precuneus

Haruka K. Takahashi, Ryo Kitada, Akihiro T. Sasaki, Hiroaki Kawamichi, Shuntaro Okazaki, Takanori Kochiyama, Norihiro Sadato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Affective mentalizing involves the integration of various social signals in order to infer the affective states of others. Previous neuroimaging studies have shown that the medial prefrontal cortex, the precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex, and the temporo-parietal junction constitute the core affective mentalizing network. However, the relative contributions of these regions to affective mentalizing remain unclear. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate which of these nodes are involved in the integration of two social signals: emotional tears and facial expressions. We assumed that this integration would produce a supra-additive effect, indicated by greater activity than the sum of the effects of the individual social signals. Female subjects rated the sadness of faces with either tears or tear-like circles, and either sad or neutral expressions. We observed the supra-additive effect in the medial prefrontal cortex and precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex but not in the temporo-parietal junction. These results indicate that the medial prefrontal cortex and precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex play an important role in integrating tears and facial expressions during affective mentalizing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-43
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroscience Research
Volume101
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Empathy
  • Expression
  • Face
  • FMRI
  • Mentalizing
  • Tear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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