THURSDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Why is it that some people are much better at turning their thoughts inward and reflecting on their decisions than others? The answer, neuroscientists say, may come down partly to differences in brain structure.
In a study published in the Sept. 17 issue of Science, researchers report that people who are good at introspection, or "thinking about thinking," have a greater volume of gray matter in the area of the brain that lies directly behind the eyes.
"What this study does is allow us to have a better understanding of the biology of the brain that is linked to quite a high level of thinking, which is our ability to reflect on our thoughts and behaviors," said one of the study's lead authors, Steve Fleming, a doctoral candidate at University College London's Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging.
Fleming noted that introspection isn't the same as knowing the correct answer. "For example, if you're a contestant on a game show and you're uncertain about your answer, you might choose to ask the audience for help. That kind of introspective knowledge is different from your basic ability to make the right decision."
For the study, Fleming and his colleagues gave 32 healthy adults a computer test that was designed to measure how well each participant did at a task, as well as how confident that person was about his or her decisions during the task.
Each person was shown two screens, both of which contained six patterned patches. One of the screens, however, contained a single patch that was brighter than all the rest. The researchers asked the participants to identify which screen contained the brighter patch, and then to rate how confident they felt about their final answers. After the experiment, participants' brains were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The researchers' theory was that individuals w
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