Friday, July 06, 2007

MORE on Neurobiological Correlates of Melbourne-Sydney Rivalry

Figure 2 (Velakoulis et al., 2007): Anterior cingulate region showing inter-state differences in cortical thickness, overlaid on a geographic map of Australia. The region-of-interest corresponded to the portion of the anterior cingulate gyrus anterior to the black line, and was delineated on the reconstructed cortical surface, as shown.

The Neurocritic covered the dueling Australian cinguli back in May. The experiment revealed that Melbourne residents have a substantially thicker anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) than Sydney residents, and this difference remained highly significant when controlling for age and intracranial volume. One of the study's authors, Dr. Mark Walterfang, commented on that post, and has made the uncorrected proof available in a blog exclusive.

The hypotheses were as follows:
-- Australian Football League (AFL) premierships won by each city would be associated with greater cortical thickness due to the endorphin-mediated release of neurotrophins, and a relative lack of cortisol-related neuronal loss.

-- Median 2005 property prices would be associated with reduced cortical thickness due to the atrophic effects of high levels of circulating cortisol in stressed mortgagees.

-- Cortical thickness would be greatest in the city with the higher intellectual capital as measured by the number of 2005 NHMRC grants.
The results indicated that Sydney residents did come up with the short end of the stick for all measures:
...the other variables compared to ACC thickness measures suggested that Sydney-siders were subject to higher property prices, a lower number of successful NHMRC grant applications, and significantly less success with respect to the number of AFL premierships won.
Clearly, this is a landmark study that inaugurates the nascent field of Sociocompetitive Neuroscience (aka the Neurobiology of Civic Rivalry).


Velakoulis D, Fornito A, Walterfang M, Malhi G, Yucel M, Pantelis C. (2007). A tale of two cities: a neuroimaging investigation of Melbourne-Sydney rivalry comparing cortical thickness in healthy adults. Australas Psychiatry 15(1):67-71.

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