The brain region that gives you a reality check

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Toronto, March 23 (ANI): You might have come across people who think that they are the smartest ones in the office - despite ample evidence to the contrary. Well don't blame them, for their brains are the culprits.

Researchers say that the brain's orbital-frontal cortex is behind such individuals' hyperbolic self-assessment of their skills or abilities, reports the Globe and Mail.

They are zeroing in on this kiwi-sized region of the frontal lobes as key to offering an internal reality check.

University of Texas researcher Jennifer Beer has found how the orbital-frontal cortex helps shape self-perception and can play a role in addiction.

Beer's research looks at the part of the frontal lobes involved in social comparisons and what is known as the "above-average effect."

In one experiment, Beer asked 28 volunteers if they were above average on positive traits, like being prompt, cool-headed, mathematical or witty.

She also asked them how they rated themselves on negative characteristics, like being stingy, materialistic, boastful or rigid.

Each volunteer underwent a brain scan while he evaluated himself.

Those who saw themselves in the most positive light when asked about 50 traits had significantly less activity in the orbital-frontal cortex while making the self-assessments. Those with a more tempered view of themselves had more activity.

Beer said that it is not that this part of the brain doesn't work, or is damaged, but that some people tend not to call on it as much.

But sometimes, it does get weakened. Drugs like methamphetamines have been shown to damage the orbital-frontal cortex. It also doesn't work well in the early stages of recovery from drug abuse. This may explain why addicts don't seek treatment or help. They have an overly positive view of themselves.

But the region does return to normal six months to a year after complete abstinence, Beer said.

The research will be presented at a conference in Toronto this week. (ANI)

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