The empathizing–systemizing model describes human cognitive style using empathizing (the drive to identify another's mental state and respond appropriately) and systemizing (the drive to assess or construct rule-based systems). ‘Brain type’ was envisioned to explain individual differences in cognitive style based on the discrepancy of the two drives. In this model, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental disorder, have extremely stronger systemizing. Revealing the underlying mechanisms of individual differences in cognitive style might contribute to elucidation of the pathology of ASD. We used voxel-based morphometry to compare the brain structures among the brain types (those who have stronger empathizing, those who have equally stronger drive to both, and those who have stronger systemizing) in 207 healthy children (age range: 5–15). Results showed that children with stronger systemizing had significantly greater grey matter volume of the right superior temporal gyrus (rSTG) than the others. The brain region, a distinctive brain structure of those with stronger systemizing, was overlapped with that of children with ASD. The rSTG is involved in detailed perceptual processing in social cognition, which is partially related to stronger systemizing. Our results contribute to elucidation of the underlying mechanisms of individual differences in cognitive style.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Cognitive Neuroscience