Brain plays key role in correcting emotional misunderstandings

Washington, Oct 11 (ANI): It is often observed that when a person is sad, the world appears to be crying with him, while when someone is happy everything shines and all around people's faces seem to rejoice with them.

These projection mechanisms of one's emotions onto others are well known to scientists, who believe they are at the core of the ability to interpret and relate to others.

In some circumstances, however, this may lead to gross mistakes (called egocentricity bias in the emotional domain EEB), to avoid them cerebral mechanisms are activated about which still little is known.

Giorgia Silani, a neuroscientist at SISSA, in collaborartion with an international group of researchers has identified an area in the brain involved in this process.

In their experiments researchers have first measured the likeliness of subjects to make these kinds of mistakes. Then, thanks to functional magnetic resonance imaging, a cerebral area has been identified in which activity is clearly more intense when the subjects are making EEB mistakes.

The responsible area is the right supramarginal gyrus, a relatively unknown location to social neurosciences.

In a third round of experiments researchers have even tried to "sabotage" the activity of this cerebral area, by temporarily shutting it down through transcranial magnetic stimulation, a (harmless) procedure which can shortly silence the electrical activity of neurons.

Silani and colleagues observed that during "shutdowns" the subjects made significantly more EEB mistakes than average, thus confirming the crucial role of this cerebral area.

Silani explained that the results of their study show for the first time the physiological markers of highly adaptive social mechanisms, such as the ability to suppress our own emotional states in order to correctly evaluate those of others.

The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience. (ANI)

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