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Identifying with fictive characters: structural brain correlates of the personality trait 'fantasy'


, : Identifying with fictive characters: structural brain correlates of the personality trait 'fantasy'. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 9(11): 1836-1844

The perception of oneself as absorbed in the thoughts, feelings and happenings of a fictive character (e.g. in a novel or film) as if the character's experiences were one's own is referred to as identification. We investigated whether individual variation in the personality trait of identification is associated with individual variation in the structure of specific brain regions, using surface and volume-based morphometry. The hypothesized regions of interest were selected on the basis of their functional role in subserving the cognitive processing domains considered important for identification (i.e. mental imagery, empathy, theory of mind and merging) and for the immersive experience called 'presence'. Controlling for age, sex, whole-brain volume and other traits, identification covaried significantly with the left hippocampal volume, cortical thickness in the right anterior insula and the left dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, and with gray matter volume in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These findings show that trait identification is associated with structural variation in specific brain regions. The findings are discussed in relation to the potential functional contribution of these regions to identification.

US$19.90

PMID: 24464847

DOI: 10.1093/scan/nst179


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