Poster B19, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Everyday moral reasoning: the role that persons play in the neural processing of social and non-social events that elicit gratitude or distress
Christina Karns1; 1University of Oregon
In any given day, there are a multitude of positive or negative events that may occur. How does the brain process the valence of these events differently when they occur due to the actions of another person or simply to chance? FMRI was used to examine these questions in a task where 32 female participants read short second-person vignettes about everyday problems. The scenarios were constructed so that the final sentence revealed an outcome that was either positive or negative and was caused by another person or not. When a person caused the outcome of the scenario, regardless of valence, responses were larger throughout the ventral and medial prefrontal cortex and posterior parietal cortex, as well as the superior temporal gyrus (STG) (p < .001, k > 20, FWE p < .05) overlapping with regions identified during a separate theory of mind localizer task (conjunction p < .001, k > 10, FWE < .05). Importantly, the involvement of a person in the outcome affected the degree of valence processing in reward-related and social-reasoning brain regions. Valence and person interacted only in the most ventral aspect of the medial prefrontal cortex, along with the anterior middle frontal gyrus, posterior parietal cortex and left and right STG (p < .001, k > 20, FWE p < .05). These results demonstrate the interaction of neural social and reward networks in the context of everyday moral reasoning and social situations that elicit gratitude or distress.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions