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Publication Detail
Individual differences in anthropomorphic attributions and human brain structure.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Cullen H, Kanai R, Bahrami B, Rees G
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    1276, 1280
  • Journal:
    Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Country:
  • PII:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    anthropomorphism, mentalizing and VBM, temporoparietal junction, Adult, Brain, Brain Mapping, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Individuality, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Questionnaires, Young Adult
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 mentalizing network. To test this hypothesis, we related brain structure measured using magnetic resonance imaging 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 non-human animals and non-animal stimuli. We found that individual differences in anthropomorphism for non-human animals correlated with the grey matter volume of the left temporoparietal junction, a brain area involved in mentalizing. 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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