Decision Making Journal Club

Spatial gradient in value representation along the medial prefrontal cortex reflects individual differences in prosociality

How do selfish and prosocial brains function differently with regard to valuing the welfare of others? The present study addresses this question by combining neuroimaging, computational modeling, and an instrumental conditioning paradigm. Contrary to the conventional notion of the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) implicated in mentalization, we found that it was selfish individuals who showed greater spatial segregation between ventral and dorsal MPFC, which encoded self- and other-regarding values, respectively. Prosocial individuals, on the other hand, were characterized by overlapping self–other representation in the ventral MPFC and by stronger functional coupling between MPFC and striatum while representing and updating the value of other-regarding choices. These findings provide rigorous scientific evidence of neural markers reflecting individual differences in human prosociality.