Neuromolecular Mechanism of the Superiority Illusion Makiko Yamada 1,2 1Molecular Imaging Center, National Institute of Radiological Sciences 2Decoding and controlling brain information, Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology (PRESTO), JST Keyword: 優越の錯覚 , ドパミン , 安静時fMRI , 機能的結合 , 線条体 , Superiority illusion , dopamine , resting-state fMRI , functional connectivity , striatum pp.49-55
Published Date 2014/1/1
DOI https://doi.org/10.11477/mf.1416101693
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The majority of individuals evaluate themselves as above average. This is a cognitive bias called "the superiority illusion". This illusory self-evaluation helps us to have hopes for the future, and has been central to the process of human evolution. Possessing this illusion is also important for mental health, as depressed people appear to have a more realistic perception of themselves, dubbed "depressive realism". Our recent study revealed the spontaneous brain activity and central dopaminergic neurotransmission that generate this illusion, using resting-state fMRI and PET. A functional connectivity between the frontal cortex and striatum, regulated by inhibitory dopaminergic neurotransmission, determines individual levels of the superiority illusion. We further revealed that blocking the dopamine transporter, which enhanced the level of dopamine, increased the degree of the superiority illusion. These findings suggest that dopamine acts on striatal dopamine receptors to suppress fronto-striatal functional connectivity, leading to disinhibited, heuristic, approaches to positive self-evaluation. These findings help us to understand how this key aspect of the human mind is biologically determined, and will suggest treatments for depressive symptoms by targeting specific molecules and neural circuits.

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