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Publication Detail
Individual differences in anthropomorphic attributions and human brain structure.
Abstract
Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to animals, non-living things or natural phenomena. It is pervasive among humans, yet nonetheless exhibits a high degree of inter-individual variability. We hypothesized that brain areas associated with anthropomorphic thinking might be similar to those engaged in the attribution of mental states to other humans, the so-called 'theory of mind' or mentalising network. To test this hypothesis, we related brain structure measured using MRI in a sample of 83 healthy young adults to a simple, self-report questionnaire that measured the extent to which our participants made anthropomorphic attributions about nonhuman animals and non-animal stimuli. We found that individual differences in anthropomorphism for nonhuman animals correlated with the grey matter volume of the left temporoparietal junction (TPJ), a brain area involved in mentalising. Our data support previous work indicating a link between areas of the brain involved in attributing mental states to other humans and those involved in anthropomorphism.
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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
Imaging Neuroscience
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