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Morphometric gray matter differences of the medial frontal cortex influence the social Simon effect

MPS-Authors
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Dolk,  Thomas
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Prinz,  Wolfgang
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Ragert,  Patrick
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Dolk, T., Liepelt, R., Villringer, A., Prinz, W., & Ragert, P. (2012). Morphometric gray matter differences of the medial frontal cortex influence the social Simon effect. NeuroImage, 61(4), 1249-1254. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.03.061.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-A1BE-3
Abstract
Interacting with others plays a fundamental role in human life. Although several brain regions have recently been associated with complex cognitive control processes, surprisingly little is known about the structural correlates underlying cognitive control processes involved in social interactions. In the present study we used gray matter voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to investigate structural brain correlates of individual performance differences in a social Simon task. Here, two people share a Simon task, which requires each participant to respond to only one of two possible stimuli, rendering the paradigm a go-nogo task, so that a Simon effect – known as the Social Simon Effect (SSE) – is observable across both participants. Using a whole brain approach, we found that inter-individual differences in the SSE are negatively correlated with gray matter (GM) volume of the medial frontal cortex (MFC). The present data indicate that individuals with larger MFC GM volume were those with better conflict resolution in a social Simon task and vice versa. This brain-behavior relationship between cognitive control processes and individual GM volume differences might help to improve our understanding of social interactions in joint task performance.