Poster B113, Sunday, March 25, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
The relationship between moral reasoning and theory of mind effective connectivity
Araya Lacy1, Timothy K. Gray1, Robert S. Ross1,2; 1University of New Hampshire Neuroscience and Behavior Program, 2University of New Hampshire Psychology Department
Studies show that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulty with moral reasoning and theory of mind (ToM) tasks. This study is intended to reveal differences in effective connectivity during ToM based on moral reasoning ability in neurotypical adults to better understand what might happen neurologically in ASD. Participants performed a moral reasoning task and were sorted into those that make moral decisions based on intention vs outcome. Participants then performed a ToM task in which they indicated whether the character in a story would have positive or negative feelings. We hypothesized that alpha oscillations in the parietal cortex would precede, and subsequently cause, prefrontal cortical alpha oscillations more strongly during the ToM task for participants who focused on intention, compared to those who focused on the outcome of the moral situation. We used the groupSIFT plugin for EEGLAB to determine effective connectivity during theory of mind. Results showed increased connectivity in beta frequency (14-30 Hz) from left anterior cingulate to left insula 800 ms after being shown the ToM question and increased connectivity in theta (4-8 Hz) from right upper basal ganglia to left anterior cingulate 400 ms post-question in the intention compared to outcome group. Connectivity in beta from left middle cingulate cortex to left precuneus at 600 ms and left middle cingulate cortex to left insula at 2200 ms was increased in the outcome compared to intention group. These results indicate that interoception during ToM may be an important component of moral decision-making.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Other