What Are the Chances? fMRI Correlates of Observing High and Low-Probability Actions


Cognitive scientists often use probabilistic equations to model human behavior in ambiguous situations. How, where, and even if such probabilities are represented in the human brain remains largely unknown. Here, we manipulated the probability of simple bottle-pouring action based on two considerations, the relative fullness of two glasses and the relative distance between the two glasses and the bottle. Whole brain functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure brain activity while participants viewed probable and improbable pouring actions. Improbable actions elicited increased activity in the theory of mind (ToM) network, commonly found active when trying to grasp the intentions of others, whereas probable actions elicited increased activity in the human mirror neuron system (hMNS) and areas associated with mental imagery and memory. These data provide novel insight into the brain mechanisms humans use to distinguish between high and low-probability actions.

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Norlund, R. , Bruggink, K. , Cuijpers, R. and Bekkering, H. (2013) What Are the Chances? fMRI Correlates of Observing High and Low-Probability Actions. Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, 3, 49-56. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2013.31005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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