Dissociable effects of prefrontal and anterior temporal cortical lesions on stereotypical gender attitudes

Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1440, USA.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.3). 09/2009; 47(10):2125-32. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.04.002
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Clinical observations of patients with ventral frontal and anterior temporal cortical lesions reveal marked abnormalities in social attitudes. A previous study in seven patients with ventral prefrontal lesions provided the first direct experimental evidence for abnormalities in social attitudes using a well-established measure of gender stereotypes, the Implicit Association Test (IAT). Here, we were able to test whether these first findings could be reproduced in a larger sample of 154 patients with penetrating head injuries, and to determine the differential effects of ventromedial prefrontal (vmPFC) and ventrolateral prefrontal (vlPFC) cortical lesions on IAT performance. In addition, we investigated the role of the superior anterior temporal lobe (aTL), recently shown to represent conceptual social knowledge. First, we used a linear regression model to identify the role of each of the three regions, while controlling for the extent of damage to other regions. We found that larger lesions in either the vmPFC or the superior aTL were associated with increased stereotypical attitudes, whereas larger lesions in the vlPFC were associated with decreased stereotypical attitudes. Second, in a confirmatory analysis, we grouped patients by lesion location and compared their performance on the IAT with that of healthy volunteers. Compared to controls, patients with lesions in either the vmPFC or the superior aTL showed increased stereotypical attitudes, whereas patients with lesions in the vlPFC showed decreased stereotypical attitudes. The functional contributions of these regions in social attitudes are discussed.

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    • "Our current study aimed at testing these 2 alternative hypotheses. To date, neuropsychological studies with brain-damaged patients have looked separately at their stereotypes (Gozzi et al, 2009; Milne and Grafman, 2001) and their prejudice reactions (Ciaramelli et al, 2012; Phelps et al, 2003). Here we assessed both the representation and the evaluation of social groups within the same study, and we tested whether the stereotypes and prejudice reactions are commonly associated. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective and background. Patterns of deficits affecting either living or nonliving categories in brain-damaged individuals have provided evidence for a particular organization of semantic knowledge in the brain. Recent work on patients with dementia suggested that the social-groups knowledge is different from the knowledge about living or non-living things. In this study we analyzed the social appraisal of patients with dementia by testing whether their degree of impairment about social-group knowledge is predictive of their social-group evaluative reactions (prejudice). We predicted that impaired knowledge about social-groups would be associated with either an increased or a reduced prejudice. Method. Twenty-one patients with fronto-temporal dementia or dementia of Alzheimer’s type, and 23 healthy controls, whose knowledge about social groups, living and nonliving thing was tested in Rumiati et al. (2014)1 using a sorting task were asked to evaluate social groups. Groups were ranked based on controls’ evaluations. Patients’ levels of deficit in sorting social groups were used as a predictor of patients’ evaluations, controlling for their levels of deficit in sorting living and non-living items. Moreover, the evaluations of patients with and without deficit in sorting social groups were compared to controls’ evaluations. Results. Compared to controls, impaired social-group knowledge was associated with a more positive evaluation of negative groups and with a less positive evaluation of admired groups. Conclusion. Results confirmed that impaired social-group knowledge, and not a general semantic loss, is predictive of a reduced-evaluative bias. Our findings are consistent with neuroimaging evidence attesting a relationship between semantic and evaluative social-group processes.
    Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology 06/2015; 28(2). DOI:10.1097/WNN.0000000000000059 · 0.95 Impact Factor
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    • "Similarly, the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) seems to subserve the general capacity to think about another’s perspective in socially contextualized situations and is reliably activated when participants deliberate over moral dilemmas where the ability to appreciate the interpersonal impact of a decision is paramount (Young et al., 2007, 2011; Young and Saxe, 2009). This approach has also proved productive in elucidating the role of the ventro-medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) in coding socio-emotional knowledge, such as stereotypes (Gozzi et al., 2009) and moral emotions—such as pride (Tangney et al., 2007), embarrassment (Zahn et al., 2009) and guilt (Moll et al., 2011). Likewise, the dorsolateral PFC (dlPFC) appears to underpin cognitive control, reasoned thinking (Mansouri et al., 2009), abstract moral principles (Moll et al., 2002) and sensitivity to unfairness (Sanfey et al., 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Research has illustrated that the brain regions implicated in moral cognition comprise a robust and broadly distributed network. However, understanding how these brain regions interact and give rise to the complex interplay of cognitive processes underpinning human moral cognition is still in its infancy. We used fMRI to examine patterns of activation for 'difficult' and 'easy' moral decisions relative to matched non-moral comparators. This revealed an activation pattern consistent with a relative functional double dissociation between the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) and ventro-medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Difficult moral decisions activated bilateral TPJ and deactivated the vmPFC and OFC. In contrast, easy moral decisions revealed patterns of activation in the vmPFC and deactivation in bilateral TPJ and dlPFC. Together these results suggest that moral cognition is a dynamic process implemented by a distributed network that involves interacting, yet functionally dissociable networks.
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 01/2013; 9(3). DOI:10.1093/scan/nss139 · 7.37 Impact Factor
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    • "Lesion studies have also elucidated the role of specific neural regions underlying implicit bias indexed by the IAT effect. Gozzi et al. (2009) found that volume loss in ventromedial PFC and ATL predicted greater implicit gender bias among a sample of TBI patients. These regions are integral for the representation of self, social semantic information and conceptual social knowledge respectively (Amodio and Frith, 2006; Zahn et al., 2007, 2009; Forbes and Grafman, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is a popular behavioral measure that assesses the associative strength between outgroup members and stereotypical and counterstereotypical traits. Less is known, however, about the degree to which the IAT reflects automatic processing. Two studies examined automatic processing contributions to a gender-IAT using a data driven, social neuroscience approach. Performance on congruent (e.g., categorizing male names with synonyms of strength) and incongruent (e.g., categorizing female names with synonyms of strength) IAT blocks were separately analyzed using EEG (event-related potentials, or ERPs, and coherence; Study 1) and lesion (Study 2) methodologies. Compared to incongruent blocks, performance on congruent IAT blocks was associated with more positive ERPs that manifested in frontal and occipital regions at automatic processing speeds, occipital regions at more controlled processing speeds and was compromised by volume loss in the anterior temporal lobe, insula and medial PFC. Performance on incongruent blocks was associated with volume loss in supplementary motor areas, cingulate gyrus and a region in medial PFC similar to that found for congruent blocks. Greater coherence was found between frontal and occipital regions to the extent individuals exhibited more bias. This suggests there are separable neural contributions to congruent and incongruent blocks of the IAT but there is also a surprising amount of overlap. Given the temporal and regional neural distinctions, these results provide converging evidence that stereotypic associative strength assessed by the IAT indexes automatic processing to a degree.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 11/2012; 6. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2012.00320 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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