How the brain responds to fairness

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Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 869
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6186.869-b

Many people consider freedom of choice and fairness fundamental values, but what are their neural bases? To probe the question, Aoki et al. had pairs of people put their heads in functional magnetic resonance scanners and then play a game. When both players were offered an equal number of choices, they were more likely to report feeling happy, and their brain scans showed increased activity in the area called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. In contrast, when the combined absolute number of options available to players increased, so did activity in the ventral striatum. Because these regions have been implicated already in value processing, these results may illuminate how a sense of fairness evolved in the human brain.

J. Neurosci. 34, 6413 (2014).

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