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Scientific reports

Perceived moral traits of others differentiate the neural activation that underlies inequity-aversion.


PMID 28230155

Abstract

We have a social preference to reduce inequity in the outcomes between oneself and others. Such a preference varies according to others. We performed functional magnetic resonance imaging during an economic game to investigate how the perceived moral traits of others modulate the neural activities that underlie inequity-aversion. The participants unilaterally allocated money to three partners (good, neutral, and bad). During presentation of the good and neutral partners, the anterior region of the rostral medial frontal cortex (arMFC) showed increased functional connectivity with the caudate head and the anterior insula, respectively. Following this, participants allocated more money to the good partner, and less to the bad partner, compared with the neutral partner. The caudate head and anterior insula showed greater activation during fair allocation to the good and unfair allocation to the neutral partners, respectively. However, these regions were silent during allocations to the bad partner. Therefore, the arMFC-caudate/insula circuit encompasses distinct neural processes that underlie inequity-aversion in monetary allocations that the different moral traits of others can modulate.

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