Manipulation of Pro-Sociality and Rule-Following with Non-invasive Brain Stimulation

Jörg Gross, Franziska Emmerling, Alexander Vostroknutov, Alexander T. Sack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Decisions are often governed by rules on adequate social behaviour. Recent research suggests that the right lateral prefrontal cortex (rLPFC) is involved in the implementation of internal fairness rules (norms), by controlling the impulse to act selfishly. A drawback of these studies is that the assumed norms and impulses have to be deduced from behaviour and that norm-following and pro-sociality are indistinguishable. Here, we directly confronted participants with a rule that demanded to make advantageous or disadvantageous monetary allocations for themselves or another person. To disentangle its functional role in rule-following and pro-sociality, we divergently manipulated the rLPFC by applying cathodal or anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Cathodal tDCS increased participants' rule-following, even of rules that demanded to lose money or hurt another person financially. In contrast, anodal tDCS led participants to specifically violate more often those rules that were at odds with what participants chose freely. Brain stimulation over the rLPFC thus did not simply increase or decrease selfishness. Instead, by disentangling rule-following and pro-sociality, our results point to a broader role of the rLPFC in integrating the costs and benefits of rules in order to align decisions with internal goals, ultimately enabling to flexibly adapt social behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1827
JournalScientific Reports
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Journal Article
  • DORSOLATERAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • CHOICE
  • TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION
  • DECISION-MAKING
  • BEHAVIOR
  • NEUROBIOLOGY
  • COGNITIVE CONTROL
  • REWARD
  • NORM COMPLIANCE

Cite this