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Agency modulates the lateral and medial prefrontal cortex responses in belief-based decision making.

Xue G, He Q, Lu ZL, Levin IP, Dong Q, Bechara A - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: However, the neural mechanisms underlying the "agency" effect on belief-based decisions are not well understood.Furthermore, subjects with high external attribution of negative events were more affected by agency at the behavioral and neural levels.These results suggest that the prefrontal decision-making system can be modulated by abstract beliefs, and are thus vulnerable to factors such as false agency and attribution.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: National Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China. guixue@gmail.com

ABSTRACT
Many real-life decisions in complex and changing environments are guided by the decision maker's beliefs, such as her perceived control over decision outcomes (i.e., agency), leading to phenomena like the "illusion of control". However, the neural mechanisms underlying the "agency" effect on belief-based decisions are not well understood. Using functional imaging and a card guessing game, we revealed that the agency manipulation (i.e., either asking the subjects (SG) or the computer (CG) to guess the location of the winning card) not only affected the size of subjects' bets, but also their "world model" regarding the outcome dependency. Functional imaging results revealed that the decision-related activation in the lateral and medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) was significantly modulated by agency and previous outcome. Specifically, these PFC regions showed stronger activation when subjects made decisions after losses than after wins under the CG condition, but the pattern was reversed under the SG condition. Furthermore, subjects with high external attribution of negative events were more affected by agency at the behavioral and neural levels. These results suggest that the prefrontal decision-making system can be modulated by abstract beliefs, and are thus vulnerable to factors such as false agency and attribution.

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Behavioral results.The averaged bet size was plotted as a function of previous outcome (win vs. loss) and streak length (1 to 5), separately for the CG (A) and SG (B) conditions. The same result was plotted again by separating the streak into short (1) and long (> = 2) streaks, which clearly showed the outcome by agency interaction in the long streak (D), but not the short streak (C) condition. E & F: Reaction time as a function of previous outcome and streak length (short vs. long). (G) The correlation of the gambler’s fallacy effect (as measured by the difference between bet size after loss(es) than after win(s)) between the CG and SG conditions. (H) The switch pattern of subjects’ choices under the SG condition. The small bar on the top left of each plot indicates the within-subject error (w.s.e).
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pone-0065274-g002: Behavioral results.The averaged bet size was plotted as a function of previous outcome (win vs. loss) and streak length (1 to 5), separately for the CG (A) and SG (B) conditions. The same result was plotted again by separating the streak into short (1) and long (> = 2) streaks, which clearly showed the outcome by agency interaction in the long streak (D), but not the short streak (C) condition. E & F: Reaction time as a function of previous outcome and streak length (short vs. long). (G) The correlation of the gambler’s fallacy effect (as measured by the difference between bet size after loss(es) than after win(s)) between the CG and SG conditions. (H) The switch pattern of subjects’ choices under the SG condition. The small bar on the top left of each plot indicates the within-subject error (w.s.e).

Mentions: The outcome by agency interaction was more clearly demonstrated by separating the results for short and long streaks (Figure 2 C & D). Under the short streak condition, there was a main effect of agency (F(1,17) = 17.52, p = .0006) with larger bet sizes in the SG condition, but no outcome by agency interaction (F(1,17) = .67, p = .42). Under the long streak condition, the difference between SG and CG was only significant when subjects won (F(1,17) = 13.12, p = .002), but not when they lost (p (1,17) = 2.24, p = .15); the outcome by agency interaction was marginally significant (F(1,17) = 3.50, p = .079). Analysis of response times revealed no significant main effect or interaction (ps>.12) (Figure 2 E & F).


Agency modulates the lateral and medial prefrontal cortex responses in belief-based decision making.

Xue G, He Q, Lu ZL, Levin IP, Dong Q, Bechara A - PLoS ONE (2013)

Behavioral results.The averaged bet size was plotted as a function of previous outcome (win vs. loss) and streak length (1 to 5), separately for the CG (A) and SG (B) conditions. The same result was plotted again by separating the streak into short (1) and long (> = 2) streaks, which clearly showed the outcome by agency interaction in the long streak (D), but not the short streak (C) condition. E & F: Reaction time as a function of previous outcome and streak length (short vs. long). (G) The correlation of the gambler’s fallacy effect (as measured by the difference between bet size after loss(es) than after win(s)) between the CG and SG conditions. (H) The switch pattern of subjects’ choices under the SG condition. The small bar on the top left of each plot indicates the within-subject error (w.s.e).
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pone-0065274-g002: Behavioral results.The averaged bet size was plotted as a function of previous outcome (win vs. loss) and streak length (1 to 5), separately for the CG (A) and SG (B) conditions. The same result was plotted again by separating the streak into short (1) and long (> = 2) streaks, which clearly showed the outcome by agency interaction in the long streak (D), but not the short streak (C) condition. E & F: Reaction time as a function of previous outcome and streak length (short vs. long). (G) The correlation of the gambler’s fallacy effect (as measured by the difference between bet size after loss(es) than after win(s)) between the CG and SG conditions. (H) The switch pattern of subjects’ choices under the SG condition. The small bar on the top left of each plot indicates the within-subject error (w.s.e).
Mentions: The outcome by agency interaction was more clearly demonstrated by separating the results for short and long streaks (Figure 2 C & D). Under the short streak condition, there was a main effect of agency (F(1,17) = 17.52, p = .0006) with larger bet sizes in the SG condition, but no outcome by agency interaction (F(1,17) = .67, p = .42). Under the long streak condition, the difference between SG and CG was only significant when subjects won (F(1,17) = 13.12, p = .002), but not when they lost (p (1,17) = 2.24, p = .15); the outcome by agency interaction was marginally significant (F(1,17) = 3.50, p = .079). Analysis of response times revealed no significant main effect or interaction (ps>.12) (Figure 2 E & F).

Bottom Line: However, the neural mechanisms underlying the "agency" effect on belief-based decisions are not well understood.Furthermore, subjects with high external attribution of negative events were more affected by agency at the behavioral and neural levels.These results suggest that the prefrontal decision-making system can be modulated by abstract beliefs, and are thus vulnerable to factors such as false agency and attribution.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: National Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China. guixue@gmail.com

ABSTRACT
Many real-life decisions in complex and changing environments are guided by the decision maker's beliefs, such as her perceived control over decision outcomes (i.e., agency), leading to phenomena like the "illusion of control". However, the neural mechanisms underlying the "agency" effect on belief-based decisions are not well understood. Using functional imaging and a card guessing game, we revealed that the agency manipulation (i.e., either asking the subjects (SG) or the computer (CG) to guess the location of the winning card) not only affected the size of subjects' bets, but also their "world model" regarding the outcome dependency. Functional imaging results revealed that the decision-related activation in the lateral and medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) was significantly modulated by agency and previous outcome. Specifically, these PFC regions showed stronger activation when subjects made decisions after losses than after wins under the CG condition, but the pattern was reversed under the SG condition. Furthermore, subjects with high external attribution of negative events were more affected by agency at the behavioral and neural levels. These results suggest that the prefrontal decision-making system can be modulated by abstract beliefs, and are thus vulnerable to factors such as false agency and attribution.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus