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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 and streak on feedback-related activations.Significant positive parametric modulation by experienced reward is overlaid on the axial slices of the group mean structural image, separately for the (A) CG and (B) SG conditions. Activations were thresholded by 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. Direct comparison revealed no significant effect of agency. Bar graphs show the percentage signal change, as a function of streak length and agency, in the anatomically defined (C) left and (D) right caudate, and (E) left and (F) right nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Error bars denote within-subject error.
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pone-0065274-g007: The effect of agency and streak on feedback-related activations.Significant positive parametric modulation by experienced reward is overlaid on the axial slices of the group mean structural image, separately for the (A) CG and (B) SG conditions. Activations were thresholded by 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. Direct comparison revealed no significant effect of agency. Bar graphs show the percentage signal change, as a function of streak length and agency, in the anatomically defined (C) left and (D) right caudate, and (E) left and (F) right nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Error bars denote within-subject error.

Mentions: Finally, we examined how agency and reward history (winning or losing streak) modulated outcome processing. Because subjects’ bets were modulated by agency, previous outcome and streak length, a parametric analysis was used to examine how the brain response was modulated by the magnitude of the experienced outcome (losses coded as negative and wins coded as positive), separately for short and long streaks. As we found no significant differences between short and long streaks at the whole-brain corrected level of significance, the averaged response across both short and long streak was calculated (Figure 7A & B). Consistent with many previous observations [38], [40], strong positive modulation by experienced outcome was found in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (computer: x/y/z: −2, 44, 2, Z = 4.07; Subject: x/y/z: −4, 38,10, Z = 3.05), the left (computer: x/y/z: −8,10, −8, Z = 3.60; Subject: x/y/z: −10, 8, −12, Z = 3.95) and the right NAcc (computer: x/y/z: 6, 16, −8, Z = 4.03; subjects: x/y/z: 8, 10, −12, Z = 3.55), but no effect of agency or streak was significant at the whole-brain correction level.


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 and streak on feedback-related activations.Significant positive parametric modulation by experienced reward is overlaid on the axial slices of the group mean structural image, separately for the (A) CG and (B) SG conditions. Activations were thresholded by 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. Direct comparison revealed no significant effect of agency. Bar graphs show the percentage signal change, as a function of streak length and agency, in the anatomically defined (C) left and (D) right caudate, and (E) left and (F) right nucleus accumbens (NAcc). 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-g007: The effect of agency and streak on feedback-related activations.Significant positive parametric modulation by experienced reward is overlaid on the axial slices of the group mean structural image, separately for the (A) CG and (B) SG conditions. Activations were thresholded by 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. Direct comparison revealed no significant effect of agency. Bar graphs show the percentage signal change, as a function of streak length and agency, in the anatomically defined (C) left and (D) right caudate, and (E) left and (F) right nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Error bars denote within-subject error.
Mentions: Finally, we examined how agency and reward history (winning or losing streak) modulated outcome processing. Because subjects’ bets were modulated by agency, previous outcome and streak length, a parametric analysis was used to examine how the brain response was modulated by the magnitude of the experienced outcome (losses coded as negative and wins coded as positive), separately for short and long streaks. As we found no significant differences between short and long streaks at the whole-brain corrected level of significance, the averaged response across both short and long streak was calculated (Figure 7A & B). Consistent with many previous observations [38], [40], strong positive modulation by experienced outcome was found in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (computer: x/y/z: −2, 44, 2, Z = 4.07; Subject: x/y/z: −4, 38,10, Z = 3.05), the left (computer: x/y/z: −8,10, −8, Z = 3.60; Subject: x/y/z: −10, 8, −12, Z = 3.95) and the right NAcc (computer: x/y/z: 6, 16, −8, Z = 4.03; subjects: x/y/z: 8, 10, −12, Z = 3.55), but no effect of agency or streak was significant at the whole-brain correction level.

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