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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 May 6;105(18):6741-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0711099105. Epub 2008 Apr 21.

Neural correlates of mentalizing-related computations during strategic interactions in humans.

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Computation and Neural Systems Program and Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology, 1200 East California Boulevard, M/C 228-77, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


Competing successfully against an intelligent adversary requires the ability to mentalize an opponent's state of mind to anticipate his/her future behavior. Although much is known about what brain regions are activated during mentalizing, the question of how this function is implemented has received little attention to date. Here we formulated a computational model describing the capacity to mentalize in games. We scanned human subjects with functional MRI while they participated in a simple two-player strategy game and correlated our model against the functional MRI data. Different model components captured activity in distinct parts of the mentalizing network. While medial prefrontal cortex tracked an individual's expectations given the degree of model-predicted influence, posterior superior temporal sulcus was found to correspond to an influence update signal, capturing the difference between expected and actual influence exerted. These results suggest dissociable contributions of different parts of the mentalizing network to the computations underlying higher-order strategizing in humans.

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