Attachment Style Predicts Cortical Activity in Temporoparietal Junction (TPJ) An fNIRS Study Using a Theory of Mind (ToM) Task in Healthy University Students

Baskak B., Kir Y., Sedes N., Kusman A., Turk E. G., BARAN Z., ...More

JOURNAL OF PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY, vol.34, no.2, pp.99-109, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 34 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1027/0269-8803/a000240
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, EMBASE, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.99-109
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Results of the behavioral studies suggest that attachment styles may have an enduring effect upon theory of mind (ToM). However biological underpinnings of this relationship are unclear. Here, we compared securely and insecurely attached first grade university students (N = 56) in terms of cortical activity measured by 52 channel Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) during the Reading the Mind from the Eyes Test (RMET). The control condition involved gender identification via the same stimuli. We found that the ToM condition evoked higher activity than the control condition particularly in the right hemisphere. We observed higher activity during the ToM condition relative to the control condition in the secure group (SG), whereas the overall cortical activity evoked by the two conditions was indistinguishable in the insecure group (ISG). Higher activity was observed in channels corresponding to right superior temporal and adjacent parietal cortices in the SG relative to the ISG during the ToM condition. Dismissive attachment scores were negatively correlated with activity in channels that correspond to right superior temporal cortex. These results suggest that attachment styles do have an effect on representation of ToM in terms of cortical activity in late adolescence. Particularly, dismissive attachment is represented by lower activity in the right superior temporal cortex during ToM, which might be related to weaker social need and habitual unwillingness for closeness among this group of adolescents.