Praising others differently: Neuroanatomical correlates to individual differences in trait gratitude and elevation

Guanmin Liu, Guang Zeng, Fei Wang, Pia Rotsthein, Kaiping Peng, Jie Sui

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Differing from basic emotions such as happiness, gratitude and elevation are important other-praising emotions. Previous behavioral studies have established that these complex emotions differ from each other; however, it remains under-investigated whether proneness to these emotions have common or distinct neuroanatomical correlates. Here we used voxel-based morphometry to identify the common and distinct neuroanatomical correlates of trait (i.e. proneness to) gratitude and elevation. We used the Gratitude Questionnaire-6 and the trait elevation scale to measure these affective traits. We demonstrated that trait gratitude was positively correlated with gray matter volume (GMV) in the left cerebellum extending to fusiform gyrus, and also the right middle occipital gyrus (MOG) extending to posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) and temporoparietal junction (TPJ), while trait elevation was negatively correlated with GMV in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. While controlling each other, all the regions still held significant, except the right MOG and pSTS/TPJ. The results indicate that there are distinct neuroanatomical correlates for proneness to gratitude and elevation, while the evidence is mixed that pSTS/TPJ may be the common correlates for them. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1225-1234
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number12
Early online date23 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • gratitute
  • elevation
  • fusiform
  • gyrus
  • posterior superior termporal sulcus
  • dorsolateral prefontal cortex


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