Impartiality in humans is predicted by brain structure of dorsomedial prefrontal cortex

Baumgartner, T. and Schiller, B. and Hill, C. and Knoch, D.. (2013) Impartiality in humans is predicted by brain structure of dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. NeuroImage, Vol. 81, H. 1. pp. 317-324.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6205373

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The moral force of impartiality (i.e. the equal treatment of all human beings) is imperative for providing justice and fairness. Yet, in reality many people become partial during intergroup interactions; they demonstrate a preferential treatment of ingroup members and a discriminatory treatment of outgroup members. Some people, however, do not show this intergroup bias. The underlying sources of these inter-individual differences are poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that the larger the gray matter volume and thickness of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC), the more individuals in the role of an uninvolved third-party impartially punish outgroup and ingroup perpetrators. Moreover, we show evidence for a possible mechanism that explains the impact of DMPFC's gray matter volume on impartiality, namely perspective-taking. Large gray matter volume of DMPFC seems to facilitate equal perspective-taking of all sides, which in turn leads to impartial behavior. This is the first evidence demonstrating that brain structure of the DMPFC constitutes an important source underlying an individual's propensity for impartiality.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Ehemalige Einheiten Psychologie > Social and Affective Neuroscience (Knoch)
UniBasel Contributors:Baumgartner, Thomas and Schiller, Bastian and Knoch, Daria
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:31 Jan 2014 09:51
Deposited On:31 Jan 2014 09:51

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