A dual-fMRI investigation of the iterated Ultimatum Game reveals that reciprocal behaviour is associated with neural alignment

Shaw, Daniel J., Czekóová, Kristína, Staněk, Rostislav, Mareček, Radek, Urbánek, Tomáš, Špalek, Jiří, Kopečková, Lenka, Řezáč, Jan and Brázdil, Milan (2018). A dual-fMRI investigation of the iterated Ultimatum Game reveals that reciprocal behaviour is associated with neural alignment. Scientific Reports, 8 (1),


Dyadic interactions often involve a dynamic process of mutual reciprocity; to steer a series of exchanges towards a desired outcome, both interactants must adapt their own behaviour according to that of their interaction partner. Understanding the brain processes behind such bidirectional reciprocity is therefore central to social neuroscience, but this requires measurement of both individuals’ brains during realworld exchanges. We achieved this by performing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on pairs of male individuals simultaneously while they interacted in a modifed iterated Ultimatum Game (iUG). In this modifcation, both players could express their intent and maximise their own monetary gain by reciprocating their partner’s behaviour – they could promote generosity through cooperation and/or discourage unfair play with retaliation. By developing a novel model of reciprocity adapted from behavioural economics, we then show that each player’s choices can be predicted accurately by estimating expected utility (EU) not only in terms of immediate payof, but also as a reaction to their opponent’s prior behaviour. Finally, for the frst time we reveal that brain signals implicated in social decision making are modulated by these estimates of EU, and become correlated more strongly between interacting players who reciprocate one another.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-29233-9
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences
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Related URLs: https://www.nat ... 598-018-29233-9 (Publisher URL)
Published Online Date: 2018-07-18
Authors: Shaw, Daniel J. ( 0000-0003-1139-8301)
Czekóová, Kristína
Staněk, Rostislav
Mareček, Radek
Urbánek, Tomáš
Špalek, Jiří
Kopečková, Lenka
Řezáč, Jan
Brázdil, Milan



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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