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Brain. 2004 Apr;127(Pt 4):783-90. Epub 2004 Feb 19.

Asymmetrical involvement of frontal lobes in social reasoning.

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  • 1Cognitive Neuroscience Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


The frontal lobes are widely implicated in logical reasoning. Recent neuroimaging studies suggest that frontal lobe involvement in reasoning is asymmetric (L>R) and increases with the presence of familiar, meaningful content in the reasoning situation. However, neuroimaging data can only provide sufficiency criteria. To determine the necessity of prefrontal involvement in logical reasoning, we tested 19 patients with focal frontal lobe lesions and 19 age- and education-matched normal controls on the Wason Card Selection Task, while manipulating social knowledge. Patients and controls performed equivalently on the arbitrary rule condition. Normal controls showed the expected improvement in the social knowledge conditions, but frontal lobe patients failed to show this facilitation in performance. Furthermore, left hemisphere patients were more affected than right hemisphere patients, suggesting that frontal lobe involvement in reasoning is asymmetric (L>R) and necessary for reasoning about social situations.

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