Dartmouth College researchers used diffusion tensor imaging and functional MRI to analyze the brain activity of 48 people as they answered questions about how they view themselves. Scans tracked activity in the frontostriatal pathway, which connects the medial prefrontal cortex and the ventral striatum. The study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, revealed that activity and strength of the pathway correlated with different types of self-esteem, suggesting the importance of that region of the brain.

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