During narrative comprehension, readers understand the emotions of the protagonist by taking the perspective of the character, which is an essential component of empathy. Spatial perspective-taking is crucial to understanding the standpoints and perceptions of others, and gives clues as to what the protagonist knows. As a default, a "here and now" point-of-view is adopted to make sense of the narrative. If the protagonist is in a different location while an event takes place ("there and now"), in order to comprehend the narrative the reader must take an allocentric perspective, which places greater demands on spatial perspective-taking. Utilizing this phenomenon, we evaluated the neural substrates of perspective-taking in emotional narrative comprehension using functional MRI in 18 normal adults. The subjects read short stories followed by a target sentence, which described an event that might evoke an emotional response in the protagonist if the character were present. The stories involved a scenario in which the character was either present at the same location ("here and now") or at a distant location ("there and now") during the event. The "there and now" scenario activated the posterior cingulate cortex and the right temporo-parietal junction more prominently than the "here and now" condition. In contrast to the control tasks, both scenarios activated the well-known mentalizing network including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, temporal pole, posterior cingulate cortex and temporo-parietal junction. Along with the mentalizing network, the posterior cingulate cortex and the right temporo-parietal junction are involved in spatial perspective-taking during emotional narrative comprehension.
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - 2009 Feb|
- Emotional comprehension
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
- Posterior cingulate cortex (PCC)
- Temporo-parietal-junction (TPJ)