Giving others the option of choice: An fMRI study on low-cost cooperation

Imke L.J. Lemmers-Jansen*, Lydia Krabbendam, David M. Amodio, Niels J. Van Doesum, Dick J. Veltman, Paul A.M. Van Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Successful social relationships require a consideration of a partner's thoughts and intentions. This aspect of social life is captured in the social mindfulness paradigm (SoMi task), in which participants make decisions that either limit or preserve options for their interaction partner's subsequent choice. Here we investigated the neural correlates of spontaneous socially mindful and unmindful behaviours. Functional magnetic resonance data were acquired from 47 healthy adolescents and young adults (age 16–27) as they completed the SoMi task. Being faced with socially relevant choices was associated with activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, caudate, and insula, which is consistent with prior neuroeconomical research. Importantly, socially mindful choices were associated with activity in the right parietal cortex and the caudate, whereas unmindful choices were associated with activity in the left prefrontal cortex. These neural findings were consistent with the behavioural preference for mindful choices, suggesting that socially mindful decisions are the basic inclination, whereas socially unmindful responses may require greater effort and control. Together, these results begin to uncover the neural correlates of socially mindful and unmindful choices, and illuminate the psychological processes involved in cooperative social behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2018

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