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Poster E153

Is this news credible? Neurocognitive mechanisms of news credibility evaluation measured by fMRI

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Mareike Bacha-Trams1 (, Daniel Bodemer1; 1Research Methods in Psychology – Media-based Knowledge Construction, Department for Human-centered Computing and Cognitive Science, Faculty of Computer Science, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany

Searching online to acquire knowledge is of enormous importance: large parts of society are receiving news from online media and further the use of this news source is rising. However, specifically online media are highly infiltered with news intentionally created to deceive or manipulate the recipient (fake news). Thus, particularly when searching for news, the distinction between reliable and less reliable news is essential. In a series of laboratory and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, we investigate processes of news evaluation and further aim at developing strategies to foster critical media literacy. In this study, we focus on investigating the neurocognitive processes of fake news evaluation using fMRI in typically-developing human adults (N = 36). In a three factorial within-subject design, we examined the effect of features of the stimuli such as the topic (targeting the emotions of fear, disgust and surprise) writing style (emotional and neutral) and source (newspaper, local newspaper, and tabloid) on the perceived credibility of the news. Results of general linear modelling, suggest that particularly brain areas in lateral frontal, medial frontal, and lateral parietal cortices, (many of them part of the Default Mode Network), were activated when evaluating news’ credibility. Further, while differences in brain activity for distinct topics and sources were less pronounced, emotionally written news affected news credibility strongly. Our findings thus indicate that affective and social neurocognitive processes like reflecting the own self, mentalizing, taking perspective or feeling empathy and reward are important for deciding if news are credible or not.

Topic Area: THINKING: Reasoning


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