Lower dorsal striatum activation in association with neuroticism during the acceptance of unfair offers.Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2015 Sep; 15(3):537-52.CA
Unfair treatment may evoke more negative emotions in individuals scoring higher on neuroticism, thereby possibly impacting their decision-making in these situations. To investigate the neural basis of social decision-making in these individuals, we examined interpersonal reactions to unfairness in the Ultimatum Game (UG). We measured brain activation with fMRI in 120 participants selected based on their neuroticism score, while they made decisions to accept or reject proposals that were either fair or unfair. The anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortex were more activated during the processing of unfair offers, consistent with prior UG studies. Furthermore, we found more activation in parietal and temporal regions for the two most common decisions (fair accept and unfair reject), involving areas related to perceptual decision-making. Conversely, during the decision to accept unfair offers, individuals recruited more frontal regions previously associated with decision-making and the implementation of reappraisal in the UG. High compared to low neurotic individuals did not show differential activation patterns during the proposal of unfair offers; however, they did show lower activation in the right dorsal striatum (putamen) during the acceptance of unfair offers. This brain region has been involved in the formation of stimulus-action-reward associations and motivation/arousal. In conclusion, the findings suggest that both high and low neurotic individuals recruit brain regions signaling social norm violations in response to unfair offers. However, when it comes to decision-making, it seems that neural circuitry related to reward and motivation is altered in individuals scoring higher on neuroticism, when accepting an unfair offer.