The cognitive mechanism for inference of personal dispositions, such as personality traits and abilities, is postulated to be dependent on the amount of episodic memory concerning target persons. To examine whether there is such target dependency in the brain mechanism during dispositional inference, we measured brain activity of normal volunteers while they were performing seven dispositional inference tasks, each for a target person in different categories, using positron emission tomography (PET). Effect of the target-person category on activation was significant in the posterodorsal, polar, and ventral subdivisions of medial prefrontal cortex, right orbitoinsular junction, left temporal pole and superior temporal sulcus, cerebellum, and thalamus, suggesting the existence of target dependency in activation during dispositional inference. The amount of episodic memory concerning a target person measured using the self-evaluative questionnaire was positively correlated with the activation in the polar subdivision of the medial prefrontal cortex, and negatively with that in a region in the left superior temporal sulcus. Together with the available knowledge on the functional roles of these regions and the proposed cognitive model in social psychology, our results suggest that these two regions play roles supplementary to each other in dispositional inference; a region in the superior temporal sulcus is involved in the processing of relevant episodic exemplar and the polar subdivision of the medial prefrontal cortex in the processing of summarized value information about the target person.
- Brain mechanism
- Target person