Self-Regulation via neural simulation

Michael Gilead*, Chelsea Boccagno, Melanie Silverman, Ran R. Hassin, Jochen Weber, Kevin N. Ochsner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Can taking the perspective of other people modify our own affective responses to stimuli? To address this question, we examined the neurobiological mechanisms supporting the ability to take another person's perspective and thereby emotionally experience the world as they would. We measured participants' neural activity as they attempted to predict the emotional responses of two individuals that differed in terms of their proneness to experience negative affect. Results showed that behavioral and neural signatures of negative affect (amygdala activity and a distributed multivoxel pattern reflecting affective negativity) simulated the presumed affective state of the target person. Furthermore, the anterior medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC)-a region implicated in mental state inference-exhibited a perspective-dependent pattern of connectivity with the amygdala, and the multivoxel pattern of activity within the mPFC differentiated between the two targets. We discuss the implications of these findings for research on perspective-taking and self-regulation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)10037-10042
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number36
StatePublished - 6 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.G. thanks M. Perkas, L. Chang, B. Dore, C. Helion, J. Shu, B. Denny, and R. Martin for assistance. M.G. is supported by fellowships from the Fulbright and Rothschild foundations. Completion of the manuscript was supported by National Institute on Aging Grant AG043463, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant HD069178, and National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH090964 (to K.N.O.)


  • MPFC|simulation |amygdala
  • Perspective-taking|emotion regulation


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