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Fault trumps gruesome evidence when it comes to punishment
Date:8/3/2014

rom a trial if they decide that its probative value is substantially outweighed by its prejudicial nature."

The fMRI scans revealed the areas of the brain that are involved in this complex process. They found that the amygdala, an almond-shaped set of neurons that plays a key role in processing emotions, responded most strongly to the graphic language condition. Like the punishment ratings themselves, however, this effect in the amygdala was only present when harm was done intentionally. Moreover, in this situation the researchers found that the amygdala showed stronger communication with the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), an area that is critical for punishment decision-making. When the harm was done unintentionally, however, a different regulatory network one involved in decoding the mental states of other people became more active and appeared to suppress amygdala responses to the graphic language, thereby preventing the amygdala from affecting decision-making areas in dlPFC.

"This is basically a reassuring finding," said Marois. "It indicates that, when the harm is not intended, we don't simply shunt aside the emotional impulse to punish. Instead, it appears that the brain down-regulates the impulse so we don't feel it as strongly. That is preferable because the urge to punish is less likely to resurface at a future date."


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Contact: David Salisbury
david.salisbury@vanderbilt.edu
615-343-6803
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert  

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