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      Mistakes that affect others: An fMRI study on processing of own errors in a social context

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          Abstract

          In social contexts, errors have a special significance and often bear consequences for others. Thinking about others and drawing social inferences in interpersonal games engages the mentalizing system. We used neuroimaging to investigate the differences in brain activations between errors that affect only agents themselves and errors that additionally influence the payoffs of interaction partners. Activation in posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) and bilateral insula was increased for all errors, whereas errors that implied consequences for others specifically activated medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), an important part of the mentalizing system. The results demonstrate that performance monitoring in social contexts involves additional processes and brain structures compared with individual performance monitoring where errors only have consequences for the person committing them. Taking into account how one’s behavior may affect others is particularly crucial for adapting behavior in interpersonal interactions and joint action.

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          Most cited references 18

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          The role of the medial frontal cortex in cognitive control.

          Adaptive goal-directed behavior involves monitoring of ongoing actions and performance outcomes, and subsequent adjustments of behavior and learning. We evaluate new findings in cognitive neuroscience concerning cortical interactions that subserve the recruitment and implementation of such cognitive control. A review of primate and human studies, along with a meta-analysis of the human functional neuroimaging literature, suggest that the detection of unfavorable outcomes, response errors, response conflict, and decision uncertainty elicits largely overlapping clusters of activation foci in an extensive part of the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC). A direct link is delineated between activity in this area and subsequent adjustments in performance. Emerging evidence points to functional interactions between the pMFC and the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), so that monitoring-related pMFC activity serves as a signal that engages regulatory processes in the LPFC to implement performance adjustments.
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            The neural basis of human error processing: reinforcement learning, dopamine, and the error-related negativity.

            The authors present a unified account of 2 neural systems concerned with the development and expression of adaptive behaviors: a mesencephalic dopamine system for reinforcement learning and a "generic" error-processing system associated with the anterior cingulate cortex. The existence of the error-processing system has been inferred from the error-related negativity (ERN), a component of the event-related brain potential elicited when human participants commit errors in reaction-time tasks. The authors propose that the ERN is generated when a negative reinforcement learning signal is conveyed to the anterior cingulate cortex via the mesencephalic dopamine system and that this signal is used by the anterior cingulate cortex to modify performance on the task at hand. They provide support for this proposal using both computational modeling and psychophysiological experimentation.
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              Functional imaging of 'theory of mind'

              Our ability to explain and predict other people's behaviour by attributing to them independent mental states, such as beliefs and desires, is known as having a 'theory of mind'. Interest in this very human ability has engendered a growing body of evidence concerning its evolution and development and the biological basis of the mechanisms underpinning it. Functional imaging has played a key role in seeking to isolate brain regions specific to this ability. Three areas are consistently activated in association with theory of mind. These are the anterior paracingulate cortex, the superior temporal sulci and the temporal poles bilaterally. This review discusses the functional significance of each of these areas within a social cognitive network.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                +31-24-3611541 , +31-24-3616066 , s.radke@donders.ru.nl
                Journal
                Exp Brain Res
                Experimental Brain Research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Experimentation Cerebrale
                Springer-Verlag (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                0014-4819
                1432-1106
                17 April 2011
                17 April 2011
                June 2011
                : 211
                : 3-4
                : 405-413
                Affiliations
                Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands
                Article
                2677
                10.1007/s00221-011-2677-0
                3102186
                21499885
                © The Author(s) 2011
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © Springer-Verlag 2011

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