Estrutura do córtex pré-frontal ajuda os humanos a pensarem sobre seus pensamentos

domingo, setembro 19, 2010

Brain Matter Linked to Introspective Thoughts: Structure of Prefrontal Cortex Helps Humans Think About One's Own Thinking

ScienceDaily (Sep. 17, 2010) — A specific region of the brain appears to be larger in individuals who are good at turning their thoughts inward and reflecting upon their decisions, according to new research published in the journal Science. This act of introspection -- or "thinking about your thinking" -- is a key aspect of human consciousness, though scientists have noted plenty of variation in peoples' abilities to introspect.

Views of inflated cortical surface showing areas of brain gray matter correlating with introspective accuracy. (Credit: Image © Science/AAAS)

The new study will be published in the 17 September issue of the journal Science. Science is published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

In light of their findings, this team of researchers, led by Prof. Geraint Rees from University College London, suggests that the volume of gray matter in the anterior prefrontal cortex of the brain, which lies right behind our eyes, is a strong indicator of a person's introspective ability. Furthermore, they say the structure of white matter connected to this area is also linked to this process of introspection.

It remains unclear, however, how this relationship between introspection and the two different types of brain matter really works. These findings do not necessarily mean that individuals with greater volume of gray matter in that region of the brain have experienced -- or will experience -- more introspective thoughts than other people. But, they do establish a correlation between the structure of gray and white matter in the prefrontal cortex and the various levels of introspection that individuals may experience.
Read more here/Leia mais aqui: Science Daily


Science 17 September 2010:
Vol. 329. no. 5998, pp. 1541 - 1543
DOI: 10.1126/science.1191883

Relating Introspective Accuracy to Individual Differences in Brain Structure

Stephen M. Fleming,1,*, Rimona S. Weil,1,2,* Zoltan Nagy,1 Raymond J. Dolan,1 Geraint Rees1,2

The ability to introspect about self-performance is key to human subjective experience, but the neuroanatomical basis of this ability is unknown. Such accurate introspection requires discriminating correct decisions from incorrect ones, a capacity that varies substantially across individuals. We dissociated variation in introspective ability from objective performance in a simple perceptual-decision task, allowing us to determine whether this interindividual variability was associated with a distinct neural basis. We show that introspective ability is correlated withgray matter volume in the anterior prefrontal cortex, a region that shows marked evolutionary development in humans. Moreover, interindividual variation in introspective ability is also correlated with white-matter microstructure connected with this area of the prefrontal cortex. Our findings point to a focal neuroanatomical substrate for introspective ability, a substrate distinct from that supporting primary perception.

1 Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, 12 Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK.
2 Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

 To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:


Professores, pesquisadores e alunos de universidades públicas e privadas com acesso ao site CAPES/Periódicos podem ler gratuitamente este artigo da Science e de mais 22.440 publicações científicas.