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Social equality in the number of choice options is represented in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex

Social equality in the number of choice options is represented in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex
Social equality in the number of choice options is represented in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex
A distinct aspect of the sense of fairness in humans is that we care not only about equality in material rewards but also about equality in nonmaterial values. One such value is the opportunity to choose freely among many options, often regarded as a fundamental right to economic freedom. In modern developed societies, equal opportunities in work, living, and lifestyle are enforced by antidiscrimination laws. Despite the widespread endorsement of equal opportunity, no studies have explored how people assign value to it. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify the neural substrates for subjective valuation of equality in choice opportunity. Participants performed a two-person choice task in which the number of choices available was varied across trials independently of choice outcomes. By using this procedure, we manipulated the degree of equality in choice opportunity between players and dissociated it from the value of reward outcomes and their equality. We found that activation in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) tracked the degree to which the number of options between the two players was equal. In contrast, activation in the ventral striatum tracked the number of options available to participants themselves but not the equality between players. Our results demonstrate that the vmPFC, a key brain region previously implicated in the processing of social values, is also involved in valuation of equality in choice opportunity between individuals. These findings may provide valuable insight into the human ability to value equal opportunity, a characteristic long emphasized in politics, economics, and philosophy.
0270-6474
6413-6421
Aoki, Ryuta
e2f8e8e0-47fc-4ca9-b953-747ed42eff05
Matsumoto, Madoka
fce773d5-53c8-49eb-b481-e1e5db38d436
Yomogida, Yukihito
335862c8-fc28-433b-b469-6c25e4c994fa
Izuma, Keise
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Murayama, Kou
3e47d8f9-5a0d-416b-b03a-cc1acd058266
Sugiura, Ayaka
0ddf0be3-803f-4ab9-b013-5b49309d6d11
Camerer, Colin F.
c2bc352f-8d06-4a86-ba04-69e0e2730e80
Adolphs, Ralph
95a28d79-bdf7-42d6-b18a-503e85afa601
Matsumoto, Kenji
df068ed2-7c79-4c79-9e8d-ac73bfcfbeeb
Aoki, Ryuta
e2f8e8e0-47fc-4ca9-b953-747ed42eff05
Matsumoto, Madoka
fce773d5-53c8-49eb-b481-e1e5db38d436
Yomogida, Yukihito
335862c8-fc28-433b-b469-6c25e4c994fa
Izuma, Keise
67894464-b2eb-4834-9727-c2a870587e5a
Murayama, Kou
3e47d8f9-5a0d-416b-b03a-cc1acd058266
Sugiura, Ayaka
0ddf0be3-803f-4ab9-b013-5b49309d6d11
Camerer, Colin F.
c2bc352f-8d06-4a86-ba04-69e0e2730e80
Adolphs, Ralph
95a28d79-bdf7-42d6-b18a-503e85afa601
Matsumoto, Kenji
df068ed2-7c79-4c79-9e8d-ac73bfcfbeeb

Aoki, Ryuta, Matsumoto, Madoka, Yomogida, Yukihito, Izuma, Keise, Murayama, Kou, Sugiura, Ayaka, Camerer, Colin F., Adolphs, Ralph and Matsumoto, Kenji (2014) Social equality in the number of choice options is represented in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 34 (18), 6413-6421. (doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4427-13.2014).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A distinct aspect of the sense of fairness in humans is that we care not only about equality in material rewards but also about equality in nonmaterial values. One such value is the opportunity to choose freely among many options, often regarded as a fundamental right to economic freedom. In modern developed societies, equal opportunities in work, living, and lifestyle are enforced by antidiscrimination laws. Despite the widespread endorsement of equal opportunity, no studies have explored how people assign value to it. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify the neural substrates for subjective valuation of equality in choice opportunity. Participants performed a two-person choice task in which the number of choices available was varied across trials independently of choice outcomes. By using this procedure, we manipulated the degree of equality in choice opportunity between players and dissociated it from the value of reward outcomes and their equality. We found that activation in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) tracked the degree to which the number of options between the two players was equal. In contrast, activation in the ventral striatum tracked the number of options available to participants themselves but not the equality between players. Our results demonstrate that the vmPFC, a key brain region previously implicated in the processing of social values, is also involved in valuation of equality in choice opportunity between individuals. These findings may provide valuable insight into the human ability to value equal opportunity, a characteristic long emphasized in politics, economics, and philosophy.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 2 April 2014
e-pub ahead of print date: 30 April 2014
Published date: 2014

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 425204
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/425204
ISSN: 0270-6474
PURE UUID: ec308380-c515-4251-8b2f-f47e75d0c44d

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Date deposited: 11 Oct 2018 16:30
Last modified: 02 May 2019 16:30

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Contributors

Author: Ryuta Aoki
Author: Madoka Matsumoto
Author: Yukihito Yomogida
Author: Keise Izuma
Author: Kou Murayama
Author: Ayaka Sugiura
Author: Colin F. Camerer
Author: Ralph Adolphs
Author: Kenji Matsumoto

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