Cycling Between Worlds

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Science  20 Feb 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5917, pp. 984
DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5917.984a

During the run-up to the first round of the 2007 presidential election in France, boundaries blurred as the usual mix of campaign rhetoric and dirty tricks spilled over into the virtual world of Second Life. Whether these skirmishes influenced the real-world electorate is unclear, and McCabe et al. have begun to investigate whether associations learned within the confines of a computer-based contest might affect participants' behavior in real-world situations. They conditioned participants to chase or avoid cyclists who overtook them by linking one type of jersey logo to fruit juice and the other to salty tea, respectively. Several days later and in a different building, approximately two-thirds of the participants, while waiting for their turn in the brain scanner, elected to sit in a chair on which was draped a towel embroidered with the positively associated logo. Furthermore, neural activity of the insula region of the brain (a measure of motivational salience) reflected the previous conditioning of appetitive and aversive stimuli, hinting at a carryover from the virtual reality cycling competition. — GJC

J. Neurosci. 29, 1046 (2009).

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