The Neural Correlates of Third-Party Punishment
Buckholtz, J. W., Asplund, C. L., Dux, P. E., Zald, D. H., Gore, J. C., Jones, O. D., & Marois, R. (2008). The Neural Correlates of Third-Party Punishment. Neuron, 60 (5): 930-40.
Abstract: Legal decision-making in criminal contexts includes two essential functions performed by impartial "third parties":
assessing responsibility and determining an appropriate punishment. To
explore the neural underpinnings of these processes, we scanned
subjects with fMRI while they determined the appropriate punishment for
crimes that varied in perpetrator responsibility and crime severity.
Activity within regions linked to affective processing (amygdala,
medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortex) predicted punishment
magnitude for a range of criminal scenarios. By contrast, activity in
right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex distinguished between scenarios on
the basis of criminal responsibility, suggesting that it plays a key
role in third-party punishment. The same prefrontal region has
previously been shown to be involved in punishing unfair economic
behavior in two-party interactions, raising the possibility that the
cognitive processes supporting third-party legal decision-making and
second-party economic norm enforcement may be supported by a common
neural mechanism in human prefrontal cortex.
(Something interesting I found)Posted: Friday, February 13, 2009