Human frontal-subcortical circuit and asymmetric belief updating

Christina Moutsiana, Caroline J. Charpentier, Neil Garrett, Michael X. Cohen, Tali Sharot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


How humans integrate information to form beliefs about reality is a question that has engaged scientists for centuries, yet the biological system supporting this process is not well understood. One of the most salient attributes of information is valence. Whether a piece of news is good or bad is critical in determining whether it will alter our beliefs. Here, we reveal a frontal–subcortical circuit in the left hemisphere that is simultaneously associated with enhanced integration of favorable information into beliefs and impaired integration of unfavorable information. Specifically, for favorable information, stronger white matter connectivity within this system, particularly between the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and left subcortical regions (including the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, putamen, and pallidum), as well as insular cortex, is associated with greater change in belief. However, for unfavorable information, stronger connectivity within this system, particularly between the left IFG and left pallidum, putamen, and insular cortex, is associated with reduced change in beliefs. These novel results are consistent with models suggest- ing that partially separable processes govern learning from favorable and unfavorable information.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14077-14085
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2015

Cite this