The neurobiological correlates of prosocial behavior are largely unknown. We examined brain structure and functional connectivity correlates of donating to a charity, a specific, costly, form of prosocial behavior. In 163 children, donating was measured using a promotional clip for a charity including a call for donations. Children could decide privately whether and how much they wanted to donate from money they had received earlier. Whole brain structural MRI scans were obtained to study associations between cortical thickness and donating behavior. In addition, resting state functional MRI scans were obtained to study whole brain functional connectivity and to examine functional connectivity between regions identified using structural MRI. In the lateral orbitofrontal cortex/pars orbitalis and pre-/postcentral cortex, a thicker cortex was associated with higher donations. Functional connectivity with these regions was not associated with donating behavior. These results suggest that donating behavior is not only situationally driven, but is also related brain morphology. The absence of functional connectivity correlates might imply that the associations with cortical thickness are involved in different underlying mechanisms of donating.

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Social Neuroscience
Generation R Study Group

Wildeboer, A., Thijssen, S., Muetzel, R., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M., Tiemeier, H., White, T., & van IJzendoorn, R. (2017). Neuroanatomical correlates of donating behavior in middle childhood. Social Neuroscience, 1–12. doi:10.1080/17470919.2017.1361864