Neural activity associated with self-referential processing of emotional stimuli was investigated using whole brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Fifteen healthy subjects underwent fMRI scanning while making judgments about positive and negative trait words in four conditions (self-reference, other-reference, semantic processing, and letter processing). Significant activity was observed in the right ventral anterior cingulate gyrus and the right amygdala in the negative-word/self-reference condition, and in the left amygdala in the positive-word/self-reference condition. Compared with the semantic-processing condition, the self-reference conditions showed significantly more activity in the medial prefrontal and temporal gyri, posterior cingulate gyrus, and precuneus. These results suggest that the medial prefrontal gyrus, posterior cingulate gyrus, and precuneus are associated with a self-referential processing, and the ventral anterior cingulate gyrus is involved in self-referential processing of negative emotional stimuli. The results also suggest that the amygdala is associated with self-referential processing of both positive and negative emotional stimuli.
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