Contact Information:

Media Contact

Joseph Caputo
jcaputo@cell.com
617-397-2802

Twitter: CellPressNews

http://www.cellpress.com




Kredyty mieszkaniowe Kredyty mieszkaniowe

Sprawdź aktualny ranking najlepszych kredytów mieszkaniowych w Polsce - atrakcyjne kredytowanie nieruchomości.

PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
FREE PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION
RSS - Press News Release
Add Press Release

Uniquely human brain region enables punishment decisions


2015-09-16
(Press-News.org) Humans are unique among social creatures in their willingness to bear personal costs to punish those who have harmed others. A study published September 16 in Neuron reveals new insights into our unparalleled sense of justice, specifically, the precise role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC)--one of the most recently evolved regions in the human brain. The findings reveal that DLPFC integrates information about a suspect's blameworthiness for wrongful acts and the resulting harm to others, enabling us to decide on the appropriate level of punishment.

"Despite the centrality of such third-party punishment decisions to modern institutions of justice, we don't know very much about how the brain combines evidence of intentionality and harm," says study first author Joshua Buckholtz of Harvard University. "Our study provides new insight into how humans make these judgments."

The success of our species is thought to rely largely on our capacity for large-scale cooperation; this, in turn, hinges on the uniquely human ability to establish and enforce social norms. To make decisions about how to punish those who violate these norms, it's necessary to integrate information about a suspect's culpability as well as the harmful consequences of the transgression. The DLPFC is well positioned to play this role; its cellular organization and high level of connectivity with other brain regions makes it specialized for integrating multiple streams of information in order to select appropriate responses. Others have shown that DLPFC performs this integrative role in non-social cognitive tasks, and the DLPFC appears to be activated in many studies of moral and legal norm-based decision-making. But until now, the precise role of DLPFC in making these judgments has been unclear.

To answer this question, Buckholtz and senior study author René Marois of Vanderbilt University used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)--a noninvasive way of stimulating the brain using magnetic fields --and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in human subjects who made blameworthiness judgments and punishment decisions about a series of crime scenarios.

In each trial, subjects were shown a short written scenario describing a protagonist named John committing a crime, ranging from simple theft to assault and murder. In some cases, the crime was deliberate and John was fully responsible for his actions, but in other instances, his culpability was diminished due to duress, psychosis, or other mitigating factors. In separate sessions, subjects either rated John's blameworthiness or the severity of punishment he deserved.

The researchers first used rTMS to magnetically stimulate, and thereby temporarily disrupt, DLPFC activity in 66 healthy volunteers (half of whom received active rTMS; the other half received placebo or "sham" rTMS). DLPFC disruption reduced the level of punishment for wrongful acts without affecting blameworthiness ratings, suggesting that these two aspects of norm-based judgments rely on distinct cognitive and neurobiological processes. On closer inspection, the researchers found that rTMS only lowered punishment ratings when John's actions were deliberate but resulted in minimal harm. Further analysis revealed that DLPFC disruption caused subjects to base their punishment decisions more on the consequences of the crime rather than on John's intentions. The findings suggest that DLPFC plays a critical role in balancing information about intent and harm to enable appropriate punishment decisions.

A separate brain imaging experiment in the same study corroborated the main rTMS findings. Overall, DLPFC showed greater activity during punishment decisions compared to blameworthiness judgments. Moreover, DLPFC activation was sensitive to John's culpability level, but this effect was only found for punishment (not blameworthiness) judgments. The findings suggest that the DLPFC is not involved in assessing culpability per se; rather, this brain region uses information about culpability specifically to support punishment decision-making.

Taken together with past results, the findings suggest that the DLPFC receives relevant information about culpability and harmful consequences from other brain regions and then integrates this information to support punishment decision making. According to the authors, future studies should identify the precise computations involved in this integrative process.

In the meantime, the authors urge caution when it comes to interpreting the results, even though the findings suggest that a brief dose of magnetic stimulation could change how people make core legal judgments. "While this study does provide new insight into how human brains make decisions of the kind that judges and jurors make daily, the effects that we report are modest in size, and it's unclear how they would generalize to trial courts. The value of this study lies in its ability to reveal the basic mechanisms of norm-enforcement decisions," Marois says. "Magnetic brain stimulation will not be coming to a courtroom near you anytime soon.

INFORMATION:

This study was made possible through the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, which fosters research collaboration between neuroscientists and legal scholars on matters of interest to both; the National Institute of Mental Health; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the Sloan Foundation; the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation; and the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior.

Neuron, Buckholtz et al.:"From Blame to Punishment: Disrupting Prefrontal Cortex Activity Reveals Norm Enforcement Mechanisms" http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2015.08.023

Neuron, published by Cell Press, is a bimonthly journal that has established itself as one of the most influential and relied upon journals in the field of neuroscience and one of the premier intellectual forums of the neuroscience community. It publishes interdisciplinary articles that integrate biophysical, cellular, developmental, and molecular approaches with a systems approach to sensory, motor, and higher-order cognitive functions. For more information, please visit http://www.cell.com/neuron. To receive media alerts for Neuron or other Cell Press journals, please contact press@cell.com.


ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

Pinpointing punishment

2015-09-16
It's a question most attorneys wish they could answer: How and why do judges and juries arrive at their decisions? The answer, Joshua Buckholtz said, may lie in the way our brains are wired. A new study co-authored by Buckholtz, an Assistant Professor of Psychology, René Marois, professor and chair of psychology at Vanderbilt and colleagues, explains how a brain region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (or DLPFC) coordinates third party punishment decisions of the type made by judges and juries. The study is described in a September 16 paper in Neuron. ...

Chapman University publishes research on attractiveness and mating

2015-09-16
Chapman University has published research on what people find "desirable" and "essential" in a long-term partner based on two of the largest national studies of mate preferences ever conducted. This research supports the long-held belief that people with desirable traits have a stronger "bargaining hand" and can be more selective when choosing romantic partners, but it also challenges other commonly held mating beliefs. The studies examined how heterosexual mate preferences differed according to a person's gender, age, personal income, education and appearance satisfaction. "We ...

E-cigarettes: Special issue from Nicotine & Tobacco Research

2015-09-16
Today, Nicotine & Tobacco Research publishes a special issue on e-cigarettes which includes twelve original investigations, one brief report, and three letters. Topics covered include e-cigarette market trends in U.S. retail, use of e-cigarettes among young people, chemical composition of e-cigarettes, and more. As Jennifer B. Unger, Ph.D., writes in the editorial that accompanies this special issue: "In this current era of scientific uncertainty, it is not surprising that the general public is confused, uninformed, or misinformed about e-cigarettes. Most U.S. adults ...

Placental problems in early pregnancy associated with 5-fold increased risk of OB & fetal disorders

2015-09-16
Philadelphia, PA, September 16, 2015 - First-trimester ultrasound scanning to pinpoint placental vascular disorders may be used to identify women at risk of developing serious obstetric complications. A new study in The American Journal of Pathology finds that patients with the highest degree of uterine artery blood flow resistance have an almost five-fold increased chance of developing preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, or stillbirth than other pregnant women. Increased cell death and reduced insulin-like growth factor-2 (IGF2) expression were found to be possible ...

UT study: Invasive brood parasites a threat to native bird species

2015-09-16
KNOXVILLE -- North Americans might be seeing new species of birds in certain areas of the continent in the near future. According to research conducted by a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and his co-authors, Eurasian birds are beginning to develop a presence on our continent, which could end up having a negative effect on native species. Vladimir Dinets, research assistant professor of psychology, recently published a paper in the Journal of Field Ornithology examining the threats of global warming and its effects on wild animals. The ...

Criminals acquire guns through social connections

2015-09-16
DURHAM, N.C. -- Criminals are far more likely to acquire guns from family and acquaintances than by theft, according to new studies by researchers at Duke University and the University of Chicago. "There are a number of myths about how criminals get their guns, such as most of them are stolen or come from dirty dealers. We didn't find that to be the case," said Philip J. Cook, a professor of public policy, economics and sociology at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy. One study asked inmates of the Cook County Jail in Chicago how they obtained guns, while a second ...

Restoring ocean health

2015-09-16
More than a decade ago, California established marine protected areas (MPAs) in state waters around the northern Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. Several years later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) extended these MPAs into the federal waters of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. To evaluate whether the MPAs are meeting their ecological goals, marine scientists from the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) have been monitoring these rocky reef and kelp forest communities. Three UC Santa ...

Report: Cancer remains leading cause of death in US Hispanics

2015-09-16
ATLANTA -September 16, 2015- While cancer is the second leading cause of death overall in the United States, it remains the leading cause of death among U.S. Hispanics. The finding comes from "Cancer Statistics for Hispanics/Latinos," a comprehensive report produced every three years by the American Cancer Society and published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. Hispanics/Latinos represent the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the United States, accounting for 17.4% of the total U.S. population in 2014. In 2015, 125,900 new cancer cases and 37,800 cancer deaths ...

Twin study suggests genetic factors contribute to insomnia in adults

2015-09-16
DARIEN, IL - A new study of twins suggests that insomnia in adults is partially explained by genetic factors, and this heritability is higher in females than in males. Results show that the genetic influences on insomnia symptoms in adults were substantial and largely stable over time while differing significantly by sex. In the longitudinal model, the estimated heritability of insomnia was 59 percent for females and 38 percent for males. "This study indicates that genes may play a larger role in the development of insomnia symptoms for women than for men, providing ...

To be fragrant or not: Why do some male hairstreak butterflies lack scent organs?

To be fragrant or not: Why do some male hairstreak butterflies lack scent organs?
2015-09-16
Female butterflies generally choose among male suitors, but in the tropics with hundreds of close relatives living in close proximity, how can they decide which males are the right ones? After all, if she mates with a male of another species, she is unlikely to have surviving offspring. One solution is that males of some species have scent producing organs on their wings, so if a male has the right smell, the female will presumably be receptive to his advances. Strangely, males of some species lack these scent producing organs, which would seem to be a huge disadvantage. ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

How your brain decides blame and punishment -- and how it can be changed

Uniquely human brain region enables punishment decisions

Pinpointing punishment

Chapman University publishes research on attractiveness and mating

E-cigarettes: Special issue from Nicotine & Tobacco Research

Placental problems in early pregnancy associated with 5-fold increased risk of OB & fetal disorders

UT study: Invasive brood parasites a threat to native bird species

Criminals acquire guns through social connections

Restoring ocean health

Report: Cancer remains leading cause of death in US Hispanics

Twin study suggests genetic factors contribute to insomnia in adults

To be fragrant or not: Why do some male hairstreak butterflies lack scent organs?

International team discovers natural defense against HIV

Bolivian biodiversity observatory takes its first steps

Choice of college major influences lifetime earnings more than simply getting a degree

Dominant strain of drug-resistant MRSA decreases in hospitals, but persists in community

Synthetic biology needs robust safety mechanisms before real world application

US defense agencies increase investment in federal synthetic biology research

Robots help to map England's only deep-water Marine Conservation Zone

Mayo researchers identify protein -- may predict who will respond to PD-1 immunotherapy for melanoma

How much water do US fracking operations really use?

New approach to mammograms could improve reliability

The influence of citizen science grows despite some resistance

Unlocking secrets of how fossils form

What happens on the molecular level when smog gets into the lungs?

Using ultrasound to clean medical instruments

Platinum and iron oxide working together get the job done

Tiny silica particles could be used to repair damaged teeth, research shows

A quantum lab for everyone

No way? Charity's logo may influence perception of food in package

[Press-News.org] Uniquely human brain region enables punishment decisions
Press-News.org is a service of DragonFly Company. All Rights Reserved.
Issuers of news releases are solely responsible for the accuracy of their content.