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Neural correlates of gratitude

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      Abstract

      Gratitude is an important aspect of human sociality, and is valued by religions and moral philosophies. It has been established that gratitude leads to benefits for both mental health and interpersonal relationships. It is thus important to elucidate the neurobiological correlates of gratitude, which are only now beginning to be investigated. To this end, we conducted an experiment during which we induced gratitude in participants while they underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging. We hypothesized that gratitude ratings would correlate with activity in brain regions associated with moral cognition, value judgment and theory of mind. The stimuli used to elicit gratitude were drawn from stories of survivors of the Holocaust, as many survivors report being sheltered by strangers or receiving lifesaving food and clothing, and having strong feelings of gratitude for such gifts. The participants were asked to place themselves in the context of the Holocaust and imagine what their own experience would feel like if they received such gifts. For each gift, they rated how grateful they felt. The results revealed that ratings of gratitude correlated with brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, in support of our hypotheses. The results provide a window into the brain circuitry for moral cognition and positive emotion that accompanies the experience of benefitting from the goodwill of others.

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        Linear registration and motion correction are important components of structural and functional brain image analysis. Most modern methods optimize some intensity-based cost function to determine the best registration. To date, little attention has been focused on the optimization method itself, even though the success of most registration methods hinges on the quality of this optimization. This paper examines the optimization process in detail and demonstrates that the commonly used multiresolution local optimization methods can, and do, get trapped in local minima. To address this problem, two approaches are taken: (1) to apodize the cost function and (2) to employ a novel hybrid global-local optimization method. This new optimization method is specifically designed for registering whole brain images. It substantially reduces the likelihood of producing misregistrations due to being trapped by local minima. The increased robustness of the method, compared to other commonly used methods, is demonstrated by a consistency test. In addition, the accuracy of the registration is demonstrated by a series of experiments with motion correction. These motion correction experiments also investigate how the results are affected by different cost functions and interpolation methods.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Department of Psychology, Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA, USA
            Author notes

            Edited by: Arik Cheshin, University of Haifa, Israel

            Reviewed by: Tor Wager, Columbia University, USA; Belinda Jayne Liddell, University of New South Wales, Australia

            *Correspondence: Glenn R. Fox, Department of Psychology, Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California, 3620A McClintock Ave., DNI 150, M/C 2921, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA glennfox@ 123456usc.edu

            This article was submitted to Emotion Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

            Contributors
            Journal
            Front Psychol
            Front Psychol
            Front. Psychol.
            Frontiers in Psychology
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            1664-1078
            30 September 2015
            2015
            : 6
            4588123 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01491
            Copyright © 2015 Fox, Kaplan, Damasio and Damasio.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

            Counts
            Figures: 6, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 72, Pages: 11, Words: 8786
            Categories
            Psychology
            Original Research

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