Responsibility is a necessary prerequisite in the experience of regret. The present fMRI study investigated the modulation of responsibility on the neural correlates of regret during a sequential risk-taking task. Participants were asked to open a series of boxes consecutively and decided when to stop. Each box contained a reward, except for one containing a devil to zero participant’s gain in the trial. Once participants stopped, both collected gains and missed chances were revealed. We manipulated responsibility by setting two different contexts. In the Self (high responsibility) context, participants opened boxes and decided when to stop by themselves. In the Computer (low responsibility) context, a computer program opened boxes and decided when to stop for participants. Before each trial, participants were required to decide whether it would be a Self or a Computer context. Behaviorally, participants felt less regret (more relief) for gain outcome and more regret for the loss outcome in the high-responsibility context than low responsibility context. At the neural level, when experiencing a gain, high-responsibility trials were characterized by stronger activation in mPFC, pgACC, mOFC, and striatum with decreasing number of missed chances relative to low responsibility trials. When experiencing a loss, low responsibility trials were associated with stronger activation in dACC and bilateral insula than high-responsibility trials. Conversely, during a loss, high-responsibility trials showed more striatum activity than low responsibility trials. These results highlighted the sensitivity of the frontal region, striatum, and insula to changes in level of responsibility.
Experimental Brain Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 3, 2018
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