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Expecting Social Punishment Facilitates Control Over A Decision Under Uncertainty By Recruiting Medial Prefrontal Cortex.


ABSTRACT: In many decision-making situations, suboptimal choices are increased by uncertainty. However, when wrong choices could lead to social punishment, such as blame, people might try to improve their performance by minimizing suboptimal choices which could be achieved by increasing the subjective cost of errors, thereby globally reducing decision noise or reducing an uncertainty-induced component of decision noise. In this functional MRI study, 46 participants performed a choice task in which the probability of a correct choice with a given cue and the conditional probability of blame feedback (by making an incorrect choice) changed continuously. By comparing computational models of behaviour, we found that participants optimized their performance by preferentially reducing a component of decision noise associated with uncertainty. Simultaneously, expecting blame significantly deteriorated participants' mood. Model-based fMRI analyses and dynamic causal modeling indicates that the optimization mechanism based on the expectation of being blamed would be controlled by a neural circuit centered on the right medial prefrontal cortex. These results show novel behavioural and neural mechanisms regarding how humans optimize uncertain decisions under the expectation of being blamed that negatively influences mood.

SUBMITTER: Kim J 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7745153 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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