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The neural underpinnings of an optimal exploitation of social information under uncertainty


Toelch, Ulf; Bach, Dominik R; Dolan, Raymond J (2014). The neural underpinnings of an optimal exploitation of social information under uncertainty. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(11):1746-1753.

Abstract

Social information influences decision-making through an integration of information derived from individual experience with that derived from observing the actions of others. This raises the question as to which extent one should utilize social information. One strategy is to make use of uncertainty estimates, leading to a copy-when-uncertain strategy that weights information from individual and social sources based on their respective reliabilities. Here, we investigate this integration process by extending models of Bayes optimal integration of sensory information to a social decision context. We then use a key parameter of our behavioral model in conjunction with functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify the neural substrate that is specifically linked to the fidelity of this integration process. We show that individuals behave near Bayes optimal when integrating two distinct sources of social information but systematically deviate from Bayes optimal choice when integrating individual with social information. This systematic behavioral deviation from optimality is linked to activity of left inferior frontal gyrus. Thus, an ability to optimally exploit social information depends on processes that overcome an egocentric bias, and this regulatory role involves the left inferior prefrontal cortex. The findings provide a mechanistic explanation for observations wherein individuals neglect the benefits from exploiting social information.

Abstract

Social information influences decision-making through an integration of information derived from individual experience with that derived from observing the actions of others. This raises the question as to which extent one should utilize social information. One strategy is to make use of uncertainty estimates, leading to a copy-when-uncertain strategy that weights information from individual and social sources based on their respective reliabilities. Here, we investigate this integration process by extending models of Bayes optimal integration of sensory information to a social decision context. We then use a key parameter of our behavioral model in conjunction with functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify the neural substrate that is specifically linked to the fidelity of this integration process. We show that individuals behave near Bayes optimal when integrating two distinct sources of social information but systematically deviate from Bayes optimal choice when integrating individual with social information. This systematic behavioral deviation from optimality is linked to activity of left inferior frontal gyrus. Thus, an ability to optimally exploit social information depends on processes that overcome an egocentric bias, and this regulatory role involves the left inferior prefrontal cortex. The findings provide a mechanistic explanation for observations wherein individuals neglect the benefits from exploiting social information.

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5 citations in Web of Science®
6 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:16 Jan 2015 14:04
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:48
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1749-5016
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nst173
PubMed ID:24194580

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