About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Understanding the Brain Behind Rebellious Traits

by Savitha C Muppala on February 23, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Font : A-A+

 Understanding the Brain Behind Rebellious Traits

The size of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex in the brain has a bearing on how flexible our attitude is, reveal scientists.

Individuals are presented with many choices in life, from political alignments through to choosing which sandwich to eat for lunch.

Advertisement

Their eventual decisions can be influenced by the options chosen by those around them. Although differences in individuals' tendencies to conform to social pressures are commonly observed, no anatomical measure has previously been linked to the likelihood of someone conforming under the influence of their peers.

Now, scientists at New York University, Aarhus University and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL (University College London) have identified the first such measure to predict how an individual will react to social pressure.
Advertisement

To identify structural measures of the brain that could relate to this trait, the team first measured the volumes of brain regions in 28 participants. This approach involved a technique known as voxel based morphometry, which allows researchers to measure the volume of grey matter (the nerve cells where the processing takes place) from three-dimensional images of the brain provided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

To measure how participants responded to social influence, they were tested to see how their preferences for certain pieces of music changed after being told what authoritative 'music critics' thought about them.

A week prior to testing, each participant listed 20 songs they liked but didn't personally own. On the day of the test, the participants rated their choices out of ten.

Next, the researchers stated that music critics with expert opinions had listened to the participants' choices and had also rated these songs out of ten.

The participants then performed a task comparing their choices with unknown music. Following the task, the participants rerated their 20 choices, and the degree to which their opinions differed in light of hearing the critics' ratings served as a measure of conformity under social influence.

Strikingly, only grey matter volume in one precise brain region - the lateral orbitofrontal cortex - was associated with this measure of social influence. The linear relationship between grey matter volume and the tendency of individuals to conform was observed in this particular region in both hemispheres of the brain.

In a previous study, the researchers had looked at the level of activity in the participants' brains when faced with disagreement with the experts.

This activity predicted how much influence the experts would have. By comparing the measures in this new study with the previous findings, they were able to show that grey matter volume in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex also predicted how individuals responded when the critics disagreed with their opinions.

These findings suggest that the brain region is particularly tuned to recognising cues of social conflict, such as when someone disapproves of a choice, which may prompt the subject to update their opinions accordingly.

"The ability to adapt to others and align ourselves with them is an important social skill. However, at what level is this skill implemented in the brain? At a software (information processing) or hardware (structural) level? Our results show that social conformation is, at least in part, hard-wired in the structure of the brain," said study leader Professor Chris Frith.

Explaining the implications of their findings Dr Daniel Campbell-Meiklejohn, first author of the study, said: "This opens a new chapter on the social consequences of brain atrophy and brain development. People with damage to this region often display changes of personality and social interaction. This finding suggests that perhaps we should look at how these individuals learn what is important from the expressed preferences of others."

The study was reported in Current Biology.

Source: ANI
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Advertisement
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Woman with Rare Spinal Cord Defect from Birth Sues Doctor
Toothache
World AIDS Day 2021 - End Inequalities, End AIDS
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Parkinsons Disease Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Brain Brain Facts Ataxia Language Areas in The Brain Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) 

Recommended Reading
Brain Tumor
Brain tumors are the abnormal growth of brain cells that may be benign or metastatic. Brain tumors ....
Head Injury
Head injury or traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of disability among children and young ......
Brain Exercises to Improve Memory
An active brain can certainly help in improving memory by strengthening the connections between ......
Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders affecting approximately 340 million people in ...
Ataxia
Ataxia affects coordination. Gait becomes unstable and the patient loses balance. The cerebellum or ...
Language Areas in The Brain
The mechanism of how human brain processes the language to express and comprehend the verbal, writte...
Parkinsons Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by progressive dopamine brain cells loss. ...
Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a psychological measure of human intelligence. Regular physical and me...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use