Introduction: Self- and external-preoccupation have been linked to psychopathological states. The neural substrates underlying self- and external-preoccupation remain unclear. In the present study, we aim to provide insight into the information-processing mechanisms associated with self- and external-preoccupation at the structural level. Methods: To investigate the neural substrates of self- and external-preoccupation, we acquired high-resolution T1-weighted structural images and Preoccupation Scale scores from 1,122 young subjects. Associations between regional gray matter volume (rGMV) and Preoccupation Scale subscores for self- and external-preoccupation were estimated using voxel-based morphometry. Results: Significant positive associations between self-preoccupation and rGMV were observed in widespread brain areas such as the bilateral precuneus and posterior cingulate gyri, structures known to be associated with self-triggered self-reference during rest. Significant negative associations between external-preoccupation and rGMV were observed only in the bilateral cerebellum, regions known to be associated with behavioral addiction, sustained attention, and reward system. Conclusion: Our results reveal distinct neural substrates for self- and external-preoccupation at the structural level.
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