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Socio-cognitive phenotypes differentially modulate large-scale structural covariance networks

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Valk,  Sofie L.
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Bernhardt,  Boris C.
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada;

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Böckler,  Anne
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Psychology, Julius Maximilian University, Würzburg, Germany;

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Trautwein,  Fynn-Mathis
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Kanske,  Philipp
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Singer,  Tania
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Valk, S. L., Bernhardt, B. C., Böckler, A., Trautwein, F.-M., Kanske, P., & Singer, T. (2017). Socio-cognitive phenotypes differentially modulate large-scale structural covariance networks. Cerebral Cortex, 27(2), 1358-1368. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhv319.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-0B52-F
Abstract
Functional neuroimaging studies have suggested the existence of 2 largely distinct social cognition networks, one for theory of mind (taking others' cognitive perspective) and another for empathy (sharing others' affective states). To address whether these networks can also be dissociated at the level of brain structure, we combined behavioral phenotyping across multiple socio-cognitive tasks with 3-Tesla MRI cortical thickness and structural covariance analysis in 270 healthy adults, recruited across 2 sites. Regional thickness mapping only provided partial support for divergent substrates, highlighting that individual differences in empathy relate to left insular-opercular thickness while no correlation between thickness and mentalizing scores was found. Conversely, structural covariance analysis showed clearly divergent network modulations by socio-cognitive and -affective phenotypes. Specifically, individual differences in theory of mind related to structural integration between temporo-parietal and dorsomedial prefrontal regions while empathy modulated the strength of dorsal anterior insula networks. Findings were robust across both recruitment sites, suggesting generalizability. At the level of structural network embedding, our study provides a double dissociation between empathy and mentalizing. Moreover, our findings suggest that structural substrates of higher-order social cognition are reflected rather in interregional networks than in the the local anatomical markup of specific regions per se.