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Mindfulness training increases cooperative decision making in economic exchanges: evidence from fMRI

Kirk, U; Gu, X; Sharp, C; Hula, A; Fonagy, P; Montague, PR; (2016) Mindfulness training increases cooperative decision making in economic exchanges: evidence from fMRI. NeuroImage , 138 pp. 274-283. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.05.075. Green open access

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Abstract

Emotions have been shown to exert influences on decision making during economic exchanges. Here we investigate the underlying neural mechanisms of a training regimen which is hypothesized to promote emotional awareness, specifically mindfulness training (MT). We test the hypothesis that MT increases cooperative economic decision making using fMRI in a randomized longitudinal design involving 8weeks of either MT or active control training (CT). We find that MT results in an increased willingness to cooperate indexed by higher acceptance rates to unfair monetary offers in the Ultimatum Game. While controlling for acceptance rates of monetary offers between intervention groups, subjects in the MT and CT groups show differential brain activation patterns. Specifically, a subset of more cooperative MT subjects displays increased activation in the septal region, an area linked to social attachment, which may drive the increased willingness to express cooperative behavior in the MT cohort. Furthermore, MT resulted in attenuated activity in anterior insula compared with the CT group in response to unfair monetary offers post-training, which may suggest that MT enables greater ability to effectively regulate the anterior insula and thereby promotes social cooperation. Finally, functional connectivity analyses show a coupling between the septal region and posterior insula in the MT group, suggesting an integration of interoceptive inputs. Together, these results highlight that MT may be employed in contexts where emotional regulation is required to promote social cooperation.

Type: Article
Title: Mindfulness training increases cooperative decision making in economic exchanges: evidence from fMRI
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.05.075
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.05.075
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. Open Access article funded by Wellcome Trust. Made available under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Keywords: Decision making; fMRI; Social cooperation; Interoception; Mindfulness; Ultimatum Game
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1495915
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