Praising others differently: Neuroanatomical correlates to individual differences in trait gratitude and elevation

Guanmin Liu, Guang Zeng, Fei Wang, Pia Rotshtein, Kaiping Peng*, Jie Sui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Differing from basic emotions such as happiness, gratitude and elevation are important other-praising emotions. Previous behavioral studies have established that these complex emotions differ from each other; however, it remains under-investigated whether proneness to these emotions have common or distinct neuroanatomical correlates. Here we used voxel-based morphometry to identify the common and distinct neuroanatomical correlates of trait (i.e. proneness to) gratitude and elevation. We used the Gratitude Questionnaire-6 and the trait elevation scale to measure these affective traits. We demonstrated that trait gratitude was positively correlated with gray matter volume (GMV) in the left cerebellum extending to fusiform gyrus, and also the right middle occipital gyrus (MOG) extending to posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) and temporoparietal junction (TPJ), while trait elevation was negatively correlated with GMV in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. While controlling each other, all the regions still held significant, except the right MOG and pSTS/TPJ. The results indicate that there are distinct neuroanatomical correlates for proneness to gratitude and elevation, while the evidence is mixed that pSTS/TPJ may be the common correlates for them. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1225-1234
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council (ES/K013424/1); National Nature Science Foundations of China (No. 31170973 and No. 31471001); Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program (to J.S.); Positive Psychology Research Foundation of China (0020344, 2015-01-29).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press.


  • dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • elevation
  • fusiform gyrus
  • gratitude
  • posterior superior temporal sulcus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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