Independent neural computation of value from other people's confidence

Campbell-Meiklejohn, Daniel, Simonsen, Arndis, Frith, Chris D and Daw, Nathaniel D (2017) Independent neural computation of value from other people's confidence. Journal of Neuroscience, 37 (3). pp. 673-684. ISSN 0270-6474

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Expectation of reward can be shaped by the observation of actions and expressions of other people in one's environment. A person's apparent confidence in the likely reward of an action, for instance, makes qualities of their evidence, not observed directly, socially accessible. This strategy is computationally distinguished from associative learning methods that rely on direct observation, by its use of inference from indirect evidence. In twenty-three healthy human subjects, we isolated effects of first-hand experience, other people's choices, and the mediating effect of their confidence, on decision-making and neural correlates of value within ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Value derived from first hand experience and other people's choices (regardless of confidence) were indiscriminately represented across vmPFC. However, value computed from agent choices weighted by their associated confidence was represented with specificity for ventromedial area 10. This pattern corresponds to shifts of connectivity and overlapping cognitive processes along a posterior-anterior vmPFC axis. Task behavior and self-reported self-reliance for decision-making in other social contexts correlated. The tendency to conform in other social contexts corresponded to increased activation in cortical regions previously shown to respond to social conflict in proportion to subsequent conformity (Campbell-Meiklejohn et al., 2010). The tendency to self-monitor predicted a selectively enhanced response to accordance with others in the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ). The findings anatomically decompose vmPFC value representations according to computational requirements and provide biological insight into the social transmission of preference and reassurance gained from the confidence of others.

Significance Statement: Decades of research have provided evidence that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) signals the satisfaction we expect from imminent actions. However, we have a surprisingly modest understanding of the organization of value across this substantial and varied region. This study finds that using cues of the reliability of other peoples'; knowledge to enhance expectation of personal success generates value correlates that are anatomically distinct from those concurrently computed from direct, personal experience. This suggests that representation of decision values in vmPFC is suborganized according to the underlying computation, consistent with what we know about the anatomical heterogeneity of the region. These results also provide insight into the observational learning process by which someone else's confidence can sway and reassure our choices.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: confidence, decision, fmri, brain, vmpfc, reward, value, social
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Neuroscience
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0180 Experimental psychology
Q Science > QP Physiology > QP0351 Neurophysiology and neuropsychology
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Depositing User: Daniel Campbell-Meiklejohn
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2017 15:16
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2018 17:41

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