The neuroscience of group membership

Morrison, Samantha, Decety, Jean and Molenberghs, Pascal (2012) The neuroscience of group membership. Neuropsychologia, 50 8: 2114-2120. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.05.014

Author Morrison, Samantha
Decety, Jean
Molenberghs, Pascal
Title The neuroscience of group membership
Journal name Neuropsychologia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0028-3932
Publication date 2012-07
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.05.014
Volume 50
Issue 8
Start page 2114
End page 2120
Total pages 7
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract The present study aimed to uncover the neural activity associated with specific in-group and out-group word related stimuli, to examine the neuroanatomical basis of group membership concept representation, and investigate to what extent neural processes represent 'in-group' differently from 'out-group'. Participants' brain activity was measured with functional MRI while they had to categorize social, in-group and out-group words and non-social, living and non-living words. The results showed that a network of brain regions previously identified as the 'social brain', including the cortical midline structures, tempo-parietal junction and the anterior temporal gyrus showed enhanced activation for social words versus non-social words. Crucially, the processing of in-group words compared to the out-group words activated a specific network including the ventral medial prefrontal and anterior and dorsal cingulate cortex. These regions correspond to a neural network previously identified as the 'personal self'. Our results suggest that the 'social' and 'personal self' are closely related and that we derive our self image from the groups we belong to.
Keyword FMRI
Group membership
Social identity
Social neuroscience
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online: 17 May 2012.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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