Brain activity in medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) during exposure to persuasive messages can predict health behavior change. This brain-behavior relationship has been linked to areas of MPFC previously associated with self-related processing; however, the mechanism underlying this relationship is unclear. We explore two components of self-related processing – self-reflection and subjective valuation – and examine coherent activity between relevant networks of brain regions during exposure to health messages encouraging exercise and discouraging sedentary behaviors. We find that objectively logged reductions in sedentary behavior in the following month are linked to functional connectivity within brain regions associated with positive valuation, but not within regions associated with self-reflection on personality traits. Furthermore, functional connectivity between valuation regions contributes additional information compared to average brain activation within single brain regions. These data support an account in which MPFC integrates the value of messages to the self during persuasive health messaging and speak to broader questions of how humans make decisions about how to behave.
Published in Volume 7