In search of the functional neuroanatomy of sociality: MRI subdivisions of orbital frontal cortex and social cognition

Nestor PG, Nakamura M, Niznikiewicz M, Thompson E, Levitt JJ, Choate V, Shenton ME, McCarley RW

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2013 Apr;8(4):460-7

PMID: 22345366


We examined social cognition in a sample of healthy participants who had prior magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) gray matter volume studies of the orbital frontal cortex (OFC) that was parcellated into three regions: gyrus rectus, middle orbital gyrus and lateral orbital gyrus. These subjects also completed a self-report measure of Machiavelli personality traits, along with psychometric tests of social comprehension and declarative episodic memory, all of which we used as proxy measures to examine various features of social cognition. The data pointed to distinct functional-anatomical relationships highlighted by strong correlations of left lateral orbital gyrus and Machiavellian scores and right middle orbital gyrus with social comprehension and declarative episodic memory. In addition, hierarchical regression analyses revealed statistical evidence of a double dissociation between Machiavellian scores and left lateral orbital gyrus on one hand, and social comprehension with right middle orbital gyrus, on the other hand. To our knowledge, these findings are the first to show evidence linking normal variation in OFC subregions and different aspects of social cognition.