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Trusting People Show Distinctive Brain Development

Trusting People Show Distinctive Brain Development

New research shows that trusting people have two areas of the brain that are more enlarged than people who are not as trusting.

University of Georgia researchers believe the research may have implications for future treatments of psychological conditions such as autism.

Each autism diagnosis is on a spectrum and varies, but some diagnosed with the condition exhibit problems trusting other people.

“There are conditions, like autism, that are characterized by deficits in being able to process the world socially, one of which is the ability to trust people,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Brian Haas, an assistant professor in the department of psychology.

“Here we have converging evidence that these brain regions are important for trust; and if we can understand how these differences relate to specific social processes, then we may be able to develop more targeted treatment techniques for people who have deficits in social cognition.”

Haas and his team of researchers used two measures to determine the trust levels of 82 study participants.

Participants filled out a self-reported questionnaire about their tendency to trust others. They also were shown pictures of faces with neutral facial expressions and asked to evaluate how trustworthy they found each person in the picture.

The self-reported tools gave researchers a metric, on a spectrum, of how trusting each participant was of others.

Researchers then took MRI scans of the participants’ brains to determine how brain structure is associated with the tendency to be more trusting of others.

What researchers found, said Haas, were differences in two areas of the brain.

“The most important finding was that the grey matter volume was greater in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, which is the brain region that serves to evaluate social rewards, in people that tended to be more trusting of others,” he said.

“Another finding that we observed was for a brain region called the amygdala. The volume of this area of the brain, which codes for emotional saliency, was greater in those that were both most trusting and least trusting of others.

“If something is emotionally important to us, the amygdala helps us code and remember it.”

Future studies may focus on how, and if, trust can be improved and whether the brain is malleable according to the type of communication someone has with another, he said.

The study has been published in the journal NeuroImage.

Source: University of Georgia

Trusting People Show Distinctive Brain Development

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Trusting People Show Distinctive Brain Development. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/03/09/trusting-people-show-distinctive-brain-development/82108.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.