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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Neurons that help predict what another individual will do identified


A cornerstone of successful social interchange is the ability to anticipate each other’s intentions or actions. While generating these internal predictions is essential for constructive social behavior, their single neuronal basis and causal underpinnings are unknown.
Authors discover in their work published in the journal Cell, specific neurons in the primate dorsal anterior cingulate that selectively predict an opponent’s yet unknown decision to invest in their common good or defect and distinct neurons that encode the monkey’s own current decision based on prior outcomes.
Mixed population predictions of the other was remarkably near optimal compared to behavioral decoders. Moreover, disrupting cingulate activity selectively biased mutually beneficial interactions between the monkeys but, surprisingly, had no influence on their decisions when no net-positive outcome was possible.
These findings identify a group of other-predictive neurons in the primate anterior cingulate essential for enacting cooperative interactions and may pave a way toward the targeted treatment of social behavioral disorders.