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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2003 Jul;17(2):248-54.

Perception and judgement of physical causality involve different brain structures.

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Inserm-Unité de recherche U280. 151, Cours Albert Thomas, 69424 Lyon Cedex 03, France.


One basic type of 'mechanical' causality is that which occurs between physical objects. Subjects were presented with mechanically causal events (ball collides with and causes movement of another ball) or two non-causal events (a ball either passes underneath another ball, or rolls across the screen and changes colour). We investigated which brain regions exhibit increased activity during the judgement of causality ('judged causality') as compared with judgement of movement direction ('perceived causality'). We show an increase of medial frontal cortex activity when subjects were explicitly instructed to search for causality. Moreover, this increase was specifically associated with the search for causality and not with the perception of causality because the signal increase occurs whatever the nature of the stimulus (causal or non causal). Our study provides evidence for brain regions involved in a conscious level of inference about the presence of causality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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