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      Effect of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex on the Gratitude of Individuals with Heterogeneous Ability in an Experimental Labor Market

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          Gratitude is an important aspect of human sociality, which benefits mental health and interpersonal relationships. Thus, elucidating the neural mechanism of gratitude, which is only now beginning to be investigated, is important. To this end, this study specifies the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) involved in the gratitude of heterogeneous individuals using the transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) technique. Previous neural studies have shown the involvement of mPFC in social cognition and value evaluation, which are closely related to gratitude. However, the causal relationship between this neural area and gratitude has not been fully examined and the effect of individual social heterogeneity has been ignored. Meanwhile, behavioral economics studies have proposed that the abilities of employees in the labor market would affect their gratitude and emotional response. Thus, we designed an experiment based on gift exchange game to investigate the relationship between mPFC and gratitude of heterogeneous employees. Before the experiment, participants were asked to perform self-cognition of their abilities through an appropriately difficult task. We then used the effort of participants to imply their gratitude and analyzed the effort levels of employees with different abilities under anodal, cathodal, and sham stimulations. The results showed that employees under anodal stimulation were significantly likely to increase their effort than those under sham stimulation, and employees under cathodal stimulation ranked at the bottom of the list. Moreover, the effort levels of low-ability employees were obviously higher than those of high-ability employees. The cathodal stimulation of mPFC significantly reduced the effort levels of low-ability employees, whereas its anodal tDCS stimulation increased the effort levels of high-ability employees. These outcomes verify the relationship between mPFC and gratitude using tDCS and provided one of the first instances of neural evidence for the incentive mechanism design in the labor market to a certain extent.

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          Most cited references 51

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            Meeting of minds: the medial frontal cortex and social cognition.

            Social interaction is a cornerstone of human life, yet the neural mechanisms underlying social cognition are poorly understood. Recently, research that integrates approaches from neuroscience and social psychology has begun to shed light on these processes, and converging evidence from neuroimaging studies suggests a unique role for the medial frontal cortex. We review the emerging literature that relates social cognition to the medial frontal cortex and, on the basis of anatomical and functional characteristics of this brain region, propose a theoretical model of medial frontal cortical function relevant to different aspects of social cognitive processing.
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              Excitability changes induced in the human motor cortex by weak transcranial direct current stimulation


                Author and article information

                Front Behav Neurosci
                Front Behav Neurosci
                Front. Behav. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                03 November 2017
                : 11
                1Business School, Tianjin University of Finance and Economics , Tianjin, China
                2Reinhard Selten Laboratory, Nankai University , Tianjin, China
                3Neural Decision Science Laboratory, Weifang University , Weifang, China
                4China Academy of Corporate Governance, Business School, Nankai University , Tianjin, China
                Author notes

                Edited by: Claudio Lucchiari, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy

                Reviewed by: Satoru Otani, Ryotokuji University, Japan; Alice Cancer, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy

                *Correspondence: Jianbiao Li biaojl@
                Copyright © 2017 Wang, Wang, Niu, Shang and Li.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Figures: 5, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 51, Pages: 9, Words: 6775
                Original Research


                social heterogeneity, gift exchange game, gratitude, tdcs, mpfc


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