Given the relevance of leadership in organizational life we designed an exploratory study to assess the neural mechanisms involved in memories of interactions with resonant and dissonant leaders (a follower-centric study). Subjects in advanced professional roles were asked about previous incidents with both types of leaders and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were then conducted with cues developed from these recollections. Recalling experiences with resonant leaders activated neural areas such as the bilateral insula right inferior parietal lobe and left superior temporal gyrus; regions associated with the mirror neuron system default mode or social network and positive affect. Recalling experiences with dissonant leaders negatively activated the right anterior cingulate cortex and activated the right inferior frontal gyrus bilateral posterior region of the inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral inferior frontal gyrus/insula; regions associated with the mirror neuron system and related to avoidance narrowed attention decreased compassion and negative emotions.
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