Humans have a striking tendency to use past autobiographical events to understand their own behavior. However, it is unknown if we use our own memories to understand others. To assess the role of autobiographical memory in mentalizing we examined the contribution of memory structures, specifically the hippocampus, to emotional judgment of others. Subjects were scanned while making emotional judgments regarding themselves, and protagonists deemed similar to or dissimilar from themselves. Results indicated a significant correlation between rating of the self and the similar protagonists, particularly for the events subjects recalled from their past. Furthermore, we found an interaction between similarity and recollection so that only for events subjects recalled from their past, the hippocampus reacted differently for judgments regarding the self versus dissimilar others, but not for self versus similar others. These results suggest that people actually use their own repertoire of memories and project internal self knowledge while making emotional judgments regarding others. It is speculated that mentalizing is modulated by memories of similar past events and depends on the protagonist we face.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Israeli Scientific Foundation (ISF) .
- Autobiographical memory
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience