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The Neural Substrates of Social Influence on Decision Making

Author(s): Tomlin, Damon; Nedic, Andrea; Prentice, Deborah A; Holmes, Philip; Cohen, Jonathan D

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Abstract: The mechanisms that govern human learning and decision making under uncertainty have been the focus of intense behavioral and, more recently, neuroscientific investigation. Substantial progress has been made in building models of the processes involved, and identifying underlying neural mechanisms using simple, two-alternative forced choice decision tasks. However, less attention has been given to how social information influences these processes, and the neural systems that mediate this influence. Here we sought to address these questions by using tasks similar to ones that have been used to study individual decision making behavior, and adding conditions in which participants were given trial-by-trial information about the performance of other individuals (their choices and/or their rewards) simultaneously playing the same tasks. We asked two questions: How does such information about the behavior of others influence performance in otherwise simple decision tasks, and what neural systems mediate this influence? We found that bilateral insula exhibited a parametric relationship to the degree of misalignment of the individual’s performance with those of others in the group. Furthermore, activity in the bilateral insula significantly predicted participants’ subsequent choices to align their behavior with others in the group when they were misaligned either in their choices (independent of success) or their degree of success (independent of specific choices). These findings add to the growing body of empirical data suggesting that the insula participates in an important way in social information processing and decision making.
Publication Date: 9-Jan-2013
Electronic Publication Date: 9-Jan-2013
Citation: Tomlin, Damon, Nedic, Andrea, Prentice, Deborah A, Holmes, Philip, Cohen, Jonathan D. "The Neural Substrates of Social Influence on Decision Making" PLoS ONE, (1), 8, e52630 - e52630, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052630
DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052630
EISSN: 1932-6203
Pages: e52630 - e52630
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: PLoS ONE
Version: This is the publisher’s version of the article (version of record). All rights reserved to the publisher. Please refer to the publisher's site for terms of use.

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