Deciphering spousal intentions: An fMRI study of couple communication

Max L. Gunther, Steven R.H. Beach, Nathan E. Yanasak, L. Stephen Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Several relational theories suggest that advice, particularly advice in areas important to the self, may be cognitively processed differently than other types of support (e.g., nondirective support) or low importance advice. Little is known, however, about the neurocognitive substrates of such complex social behaviors. We hypothesized that the Superior Temporal Sulcus (STS) and the Medial Prefrontal Cortex (MPFC), cortical regions previously linked to Theory of Mind (ToM), would be more active for high than low importance advice. Results indicated that high importance advice was associated with greater activation in the left MPFC and bilaterally in the STS. Similar results were obtained when compared to positive comments. These findings indicate that when given advice individuals may be attempting to infer motivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-410
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Advice
  • FMRI
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • MPFC
  • Marriage
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • STS
  • Social neuroscience
  • Social support
  • Superior temporal sulcus
  • Theory of mind
  • ToM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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