Researchers find a brain center for social choices
(Press-News.org) DURHAM, N.C. -- Although many areas of the human brain are devoted to social tasks like detecting another person nearby, a new study has found that one small region carries information only for decisions during social interactions. Specifically, the area is active when we encounter a worthy opponent and decide whether to deceive them.
A brain imaging study conducted by researchers at the Duke Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Science (D-CIDES) put human subjects through a functional MRI brain scan while playing a simplified game of poker against a computer and human opponents. Using computer algorithms to sort out what amount of information each area of the brain was processing, the team found only one brain region -- the temporal-parietal junction, or TPJ --- carried information that was unique to decisions against the human opponent.
Some of the time, the subjects were dealt an obviously weak hand. The researchers wanted to see whether they could watch the player calculate whether to bluff his opponent. The brain signals in the TPJ told the researchers whether the subject would soon bluff against a human opponent, especially if that opponent was judged to be skilled. But against a computer, signals in the TPJ did not predict the subject's decisions.
The TPJ is in a boundary area of the brain, and may be an intersection for two streams of information, said lead researcher McKell Carter, a postdoctoral fellow at Duke. It brings together a flow of attentional information and biological information, such as "is that another person?"
Carter observed that in general, participants paid more attention to their human opponent than their computer opponent while playing poker, which is consistent with humans' drive to be social.
Throughout the poker game experiment, regions of the brain that are typically thought to be social in nature did not carry information specific to a social context. "The fact that all of these brain regions that should be specifically social are used in other circumstances is a testament to the remarkable flexibility and efficiency of our brains," said Carter.
"There are fundamental neural differences between decisions in social and non-social situations," said D-CIDES Director Scott Huettel, the Hubbard professor of psychology & neuroscience at Duke and senior author of the study. "Social information may cause our brain to play by different rules than non-social information, and it will be important for both scientists and policymakers to understand what causes us to approach a decision in a social or a non-social manner.
"Understanding how the brain identifies important competitors and collaborators -- those people who are most relevant for our future behavior -- will lead to new insights into social phenomena like dehumanization and empathy," Huettel added.
The study, supported by National Institutes of Health, appears in the July 6 Science.
CITATION: "A Distinct Role of the Temporal-parietal Junction in Predicting Socially Guided Decisions," R. McKell Carter, Daniel L. Bowling, Crystal Reeck, and Scott A. Huettel, Science, July 6, 2012. DOI 10.1126/science.1219681
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
The discovery is an important step toward therapies that aim to repair the brain not by introducing new stem cells but rather by spurring those that are already present into action, says the study's lead author Freda Miller of the University of Toronto-affiliated Hospital for Sick Children. The fact that it's a drug that is so widely used and so safe makes the news all that much better.
Earlier work by Miller's team highlighted a pathway known as aPKC-CBP for its essential role in telling neural stem cells where and when to differentiate into mature neurons. As it happened, ...
SAN FRANCISCO, CA--July 5, 2012--Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have discovered that environmental factors critically influence the growth of a type of stem cell--called an iPS cell--that is derived from adult skin cells. This discovery offers newfound understanding of how these cells form, while also advancing science closer to stem cell-based therapies to combat disease.
Researchers in the laboratory of Gladstone Senior Investigator Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, have for the first time shown that protein factors released by other cells affect the "reprogramming" ...
On a recent expedition to the inhospitable North Atlantic Ocean, scientists at the University of Washington and collaborators studying the annual growth of tiny plants were stumped to discover that the plankton had started growing before the sun had a chance to offer the light they need for their growth spurt.
For decades, scientists have known that springtime brings the longer days and calmer seas that force phytoplankton near the surface, where they get the sunlight they need to flourish.
But in research results published this week in the journal Science, scientists ...
Aneurysm screening for men aged over 65 is cost effective and rescreening those at highest risk, at least once, should be considered, suggests a study published on bmj.com today.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms (caused by ballooning of the artery wall) usually occur in men aged between 65 and 75 years old and are more common among smokers. If the artery wall ruptures, the risk of death is high, but aneurysms at risk of rupture can be detected by screening and surgically repaired.
One-off screening for men aged over 65 is known to be cost effective and national screening ...
A group of US researchers has produced a robotic set of legs which they believe is the first to fully model walking in a biologically accurate manner.
The neural architecture, musculoskeletal architecture and sensory feedback pathways in humans have been simplified and built into the robot, giving it a remarkably human-like walking gait that can be viewed in this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnD7LqisBhM&feature=youtu.be.
The biological accuracy of this robot, which has been presented today, Friday 6 July, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Neural Engineering, ...
Ottawa (July 5th, 2012) – An international expert panel has assessed that decisions regarding science funding and performance can't be determined by metrics alone. A combination of performance indicators and expert judgment are the best formula for determining how to allocate science funding.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) spends approximately one billion dollars a year on scientific research. Over one-third of that goes directly to support discovery research through its flagship Discovery Grants Program (DGP). However, concerns ...
In secrecy, the "apps" forward private data to a third party. Computer scientists from Saarbrücken have developed a new approach to prevent this data abuse. They can put a stop to the data theft through the app "SRT AppGuard". The chief attraction: For the protection to work, it is not necessary to identify the suspicious programs in advance, nor must the operating system be changed. Instead, the freely available app attacks the program code of the digital spies.
"My smartphone knows everything about me, starting with my name, my phone number, my e-mail address, my interests, ...
The earth is shaken daily by strong earthquakes recorded by a number of seismic stations worldwide. Tectonic tremor, however, is a new type of seismic signal that seismologist started studying only within the last few years. Tremor is less hazardous than earthquakes and occurs at greater depth. The link between tremor and earthquakes may provide clues about the more destructive earthquakes that occur at shallower depths. Geophysicists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) collected seismic data of tectonic tremor in California. These data are now being evaluated in ...
The immunosuppressive drug fingolimod (trade name: Gilenya®) is approved for the treatment of highly-active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in adults. In an early benefit assessment pursuant to "Act on the Reform of the Market for Medicinal Products" (AMNOG), the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) assessed whether fingolimod offers an added benefit compared with the present standard therapy.
According to the findings of the assessment, patients with a rapidly progressive and severe course of disease who take fingolimod experience ...
Over the past year, some news reports have questioned the long-term viability and popularity of daily deal companies, but the industry shows no evidence of slowing down, according to a new study from Rice University.
In the study, "How Businesses Fare With Daily Deals As They Gain Experience: A Multi-Time Period Study of Daily Deal Performance," Utpal Dholakia examines performance of daily deals using survey data from 641 small- and medium-sized businesses obtained at three time periods: April-May 2011, October 2011, and May 2012. Dholakia is a professor of management ...
LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES: