Projecting memories: The role of the hippocampus in emotional mentalizing

D. Perry, T. Hendler, S. G. Shamay-Tsoory*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Humans have a striking tendency to use past autobiographical events to understand their own behavior. However, it is unknown if we use our own memories to understand others. To assess the role of autobiographical memory in mentalizing we examined the contribution of memory structures, specifically the hippocampus, to emotional judgment of others. Subjects were scanned while making emotional judgments regarding themselves, and protagonists deemed similar to or dissimilar from themselves. Results indicated a significant correlation between rating of the self and the similar protagonists, particularly for the events subjects recalled from their past. Furthermore, we found an interaction between similarity and recollection so that only for events subjects recalled from their past, the hippocampus reacted differently for judgments regarding the self versus dissimilar others, but not for self versus similar others. These results suggest that people actually use their own repertoire of memories and project internal self knowledge while making emotional judgments regarding others. It is speculated that mentalizing is modulated by memories of similar past events and depends on the protagonist we face.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1669-1676
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroImage
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2011

Funding

FundersFunder number
Israeli Scientific Foundation

    Keywords

    • Autobiographical memory
    • Emotion
    • Mentalizing
    • Self-other

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