Orbital prefrontal cortex volume correlates with social cognitive competence

Joanne L. Powell, Penelope A. Lewis, Robin I. M. Dunbar, Marta Garcia-Finana, Neil Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Intentionality or Theory of Mind is the ability to explain and predict the behaviour of others by attributing to them intentions and mental states and is hypothesised to be one of several social cognitive mechanisms which have Impacted upon brain size evolution Though the brain activity associated with processing this type of information has been studied extensively the neuroanatomical correlates of these abilities e g whether subjects who perform better have greater volume of associated brain regions remain to be investigated Because social abilities of this type appear to have evolved relatively recently and because the prefrontal cortex (PFC) was the last brain region to develop both phylogenetically and ontogenetically we hypothesised a relationship between PFC volume and intentional competence To test this we estimated the volume of four regional prefrontal subfields in each cerebral hemisphere in 40 healthy adult humans by applying stereological methods on T-1-weighted magnetic resonance images Our results reveal a significant linear relationship between intentionality score and volume of orbital PFC (p = 0 01) Since this region is known to be involved in the processing of social information our findings support the hypothesis that brain size evolution is at least in part the result of social cognitive mechanisms supporting social cohesion (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3554-3562
Number of pages9
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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