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How fair sanctions are orchestrated in the brain
Date:10/6/2011

your own expense significantly more difficult.

Therapeutic benefits

The results could be important in the therapeutic use of the non-invasive brain-stimulation method in psychiatric and forensic patients. Patients who exhibit strong anti-social behavior also frequently display reduced activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This region of the brain, however, is not directly accessible for non-invasive brain stimulation, as its location is too deep inside the brain. The results of the current study suggest that the activity in this region of the brain could be increased if the activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex were increased with the aid of brain stimulation. This indirectly induced increase in the activity of the frontal brain regions could help improve prosocial and fair behavior in these patients, concludes Daria Knoch.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

TMS reduces the excitability of an area of the brain temporarily and painlessly. The researchers used this short-term impairment of an area of the brain to examine subjects' behavior when they had to decide whether to punish a partner's unfair behavior in a negotiation experiment. TMS enables causal conclusions as to whether a particular area of the brain plays a decisive role in behavior, including whether sanctions will occur. Brain areas often work in a network, however, and rarely in isolation during such a complex process. While fMRI can be used to measure the activity of these networks, the method does not allow any causal conclusions to be drawn. Only a combination of the two methods thus permits the determination of the neuronal networks that play a causal role in sanctioning at one's own expense.


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Contact: Dr. Thomas Baumgartner
t.baumgartner@unibas.ch
41-612-670-288
University of Zurich
Source:Eurekalert

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