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Neural Computations Underpinning The Strategic Management Of Influence In Advice Giving

By Uri Hertz, Stefano Palminteri, Silvia Brunetti, Cecilie Olesen, Chris D Frith, Bahador Bahrami

Posted 29 Mar 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/121947 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02314-5)

Research on social influence has mainly focused on the target of influence (e.g., consumer, voter), while the cognitive and neurobiological underpinnings of the source of the influence (e.g., spin doctor, financial adviser) remain unexplored. Here, we introduce a 3-sided Advising Game consisting of a client and two advisers. Advisers managed their influence over the client strategically by modulating the confidence of their advice depending on their level of influence (i.e. which adviser had the client's attention) and their relative merit (i.e. which adviser was more accurate). Functional magnetic resonance imaging showed that these sources of social information were computed in distinct cortical regions: relative merit prediction error was tracked in the medial-prefrontal cortex and selection by client in the right temporo-parietal junction. Trial-by-trial changes in both sources of social information modulated the activity in the ventral striatum. These results open a fresh avenue for exploration of human interactions and provide new insights on the neurobiology involved when we try to influence others.

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