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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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The effect of agency on choice-related activation.Stronger activation in the right insula is rendered onto a population-averaged surface atlas using multi-fiducial mapping [77], and is overlaid on the (B) axial slices of the group mean structural image. Activations were thresholded using cluster detection statistics, with a height threshold of z>2.3 and a cluster probability of P<0.05, corrected for whole-brain multiple comparisons. (C) Bar graph of the percentage signal change in the right insula during choice stage as a function of agency. Error bars denote within-subject error.
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pone-0065274-g006: The effect of agency on choice-related activation.Stronger activation in the right insula is rendered onto a population-averaged surface atlas using multi-fiducial mapping [77], and is overlaid on the (B) axial slices of the group mean structural image. Activations were thresholded using cluster detection statistics, with a height threshold of z>2.3 and a cluster probability of P<0.05, corrected for whole-brain multiple comparisons. (C) Bar graph of the percentage signal change in the right insula during choice stage as a function of agency. Error bars denote within-subject error.

Mentions: We then compared the neural activation between the SG and CG conditions during the choice stage. Consistent with previous observations [16], [39], we found that internal agency (SG>CG) was associated with stronger activation in the right insular cortex (x/y/z: 38, −4, −6, Z = 3.68) (Figure 6).


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)

The effect of agency on choice-related activation.Stronger activation in the right insula is rendered onto a population-averaged surface atlas using multi-fiducial mapping [77], and is overlaid on the (B) axial slices of the group mean structural image. Activations were thresholded using cluster detection statistics, with a height threshold of z>2.3 and a cluster probability of P<0.05, corrected for whole-brain multiple comparisons. (C) Bar graph of the percentage signal change in the right insula during choice stage as a function of agency. Error bars denote within-subject error.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3675124&req=5

pone-0065274-g006: The effect of agency on choice-related activation.Stronger activation in the right insula is rendered onto a population-averaged surface atlas using multi-fiducial mapping [77], and is overlaid on the (B) axial slices of the group mean structural image. Activations were thresholded using cluster detection statistics, with a height threshold of z>2.3 and a cluster probability of P<0.05, corrected for whole-brain multiple comparisons. (C) Bar graph of the percentage signal change in the right insula during choice stage as a function of agency. Error bars denote within-subject error.
Mentions: We then compared the neural activation between the SG and CG conditions during the choice stage. Consistent with previous observations [16], [39], we found that internal agency (SG>CG) was associated with stronger activation in the right insular cortex (x/y/z: 38, −4, −6, Z = 3.68) (Figure 6).

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