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Suspicion resides in 2 regions of the brain
Date:5/17/2012

talists, who were relatively honest about the widget's value; 37 percent were conservatives, who adopted the strategy of withholding information; and 21 percent were strategists, who were actively deceptive, mimicking incrementalist behavior by sending high suggestions during low-value trials and then reaping greater benefits by sending low suggestions during high-value trials.

The sellers had a monetary incentive to read the buyers' strategic profiles correctly, yet they received no feedback about the accuracy of the information they were receiving, so they could not confirm any suspicions about patterns of behavior. Without feedback, the sellers were forced to decide whether they should trust the buyers based on the pricing suggestions alone. "The more uncertain a seller was about a buyer's credibility," Montague said, "the more active his or her parahippocampal gyrus became."

The authors believe a person's baseline suspicion may have important consequences for his or her financial success. "People with a high baseline suspicion were often interacting with fairly trustworthy buyers, so in ignoring the information those buyers provided, they were giving up potential profits," said Meghana Bhatt, the first author on the research paper. "The ability to recognize credible information in a competitive environment can be just as important as detecting untrustworthy behavior."

The findings may also have implications for such psychiatric conditions as paranoia and anxiety disorders, said Montague. "The fact that increased amygdala activation corresponds to an inability to detect trustworthy behavior may provide insight into the social interactions of people with anxiety disorders, who often have increased activity in this area of the brain," he said.

The research appeared in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on May 10 in the article "Distinct contributions of the amygdala and
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Contact: Paula Byron
pbyron@vt.edu
540-526-2027
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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