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Keywords:

  • racial identity;
  • race;
  • default network;
  • fMRI;
  • medial prefrontal cortex;
  • cortical midline structures

Abstract

Racial identification shapes self-concept and how people share in and respond to the emotional states of others around them. Prior neuroimaging studies have demonstrated the role of the neural default network in self-referential and empathic processing. However, how racial identification affects neural processing of social information remains unknown. Here, we examined the effect of racial identification on neural response related to social perception among African American and Caucasian American individuals using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Our results demonstrate that degree of racial identification predicts activity within cortical midline structures of the default network in response to viewing racial ingroup, relative to outgroup members, and activity within the medial temporal lobe subsystem of the default network in response to viewing racial outgroup, relative to ingroup members. Broadly, our findings suggest that the strength of racial identification is associated with differential recruitment of neural and cognitive processes to understand and respond to other people within and outside of one's racial group. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.