Empathizing is the drive to identify the mental status of other individuals and respond to it with an appropriate emotion; systemizing is the drive to analyze a system. Previously, we have shown that structures associated with the default mode network (DMN) and external attention system (EAS) are associated with empathizing and systemizing, respectively. Here we investigated the association between resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) and empathizing/systemizing in 248 healthy young adults. We considered the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortices (DLPFCs), which are key nodes of DMN and EAS, as seed regions, and investigated correlations across subjects between individual empathizing/systemizing and RSFC between each seed region and other brain regions. We found that higher empathizing was associated with larger RSFC between the mPFC and areas in (a) the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), (b) precuneus, and (c) left superior temporal sulcus (STS). Furthermore, there was an interaction effect between sex and systemizing on RSFC between the left DLPFC and dACC: males showed positive correlations between this RSFC and systemizing, whereas females showed the opposite tendency. Thus, empathizing was associated with increased positive functional coupling with the key node and other nodes of DMN, as well as the area associated with feeling another's pain. Systemizing was associated with increased positive functional coupling between the key nodes of EAS in males. These findings provide further support for the concept of an association between DMN/EAS and empathizing/systemizing.
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