The gray matter volume of the temporoparietal junction varies across cultures: a moderating role of the dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4)


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Abstract

Prior work shows that compared to European Americans, East Asians show an enhanced propensity to take the perspective of another person. In the current work, we tested whether this cultural difference might be reflected in the gray matter (GM) volume of the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), a brain region selectively implicated in perspective taking and mentalizing. We also explored whether the cultural difference in the TPJ GM volume might be moderated by dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4) exon 3 variable-number tandem repeat polymorphism. Structural magnetic resonance imaging of 66 European Americans and 66 East Asian-born Asians were subjected to voxel-based morphometry. It was observed that the GM volume of the right TPJ was greater among East Asians than among European Americans. Moreover, this cultural difference was significantly more pronounced among carriers of the 7- or 2-repeat allele of DRD4 than among the non-carriers of these alleles. Our findings contribute to the growing evidence that culture can shape the brain.

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