Increasing generosity by disrupting prefrontal cortex

Christov-Moore, L., Sugiyama, T., Grigaityte, K., Iacoboni, M. (April 2016) Increasing generosity by disrupting prefrontal cortex. Soc Neurosci, 12 (2). pp. 174-181. ISSN 1747-0927 (Electronic)1747-0919 (Linking)

DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2016.1154105


Recent research suggests that prosocial outcomes in sharing games arise from prefrontal control of self-maximizing impulses. We used continuous Theta Burst Stimulation (cTBS) to disrupt the functioning of two prefrontal areas, the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC). We used cTBS in the right MT/V5, as a control area. We then tested subjects' prosocial inclinations with an unsupervised Dictator Game in which they allocated real money anonymously between themselves and low and high socioeconomic status (SES) players. cTBS over the two prefrontal sites made subjects more generous compared to MT/V5. More specifically, cTBS over DLPFC increased offers to high SES players, while cTBS over DMPFC caused increased offers to low SES players. These data, the first to demonstrate an effect of disruptive neuromodulation on costly sharing, suggest that DLPFC and MPFC exert inhibitory control over prosocial inclinations during costly sharing, though they may do so in different ways. DLPFC may implement contextual control, while DMPFC may implement a tonic form of control. This study demonstrates that humans' prepotent inclination is toward prosocial outcomes when cognitive control is reduced, even when prosocial decisions carry no strategic benefit and concerns for reputation are minimized.

Item Type: Paper
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cognitive Control Empathy Neuroeconomics Prosocial Behavior Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Subjects: organism description > animal behavior > perception > cognition
organism description > animal behavior > perception
organs, tissues, organelles, cell types and functions > tissues types and functions > prefrontal cortex
CSHL Authors:
Communities: School of Biological Sciences > Publications
Depositing User: Matt Covey
Date: April 2016
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2016 16:05
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:37
PMCID: PMC5593255
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