abstract Matthew Apps

Matthew Apps (University of Oxford, UK)

The anterior cingulate gyrus: Monitoring other people’s (erroneous) predictions

Our behaviours are motivated by predictions about the value (benefits – costs) of performing actions, which we learn through trial and error. However, we do not operate in a social vacuum. Successful cooperation or competition requires the ability to understand other people’s predictions about the value of their actions and also to understand how wrong their predictions are. Research examining the neurobiology of social cognition has suggested that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) may play a specific role in socio-cognitive abilities such as empathy or competition. Yet, the vast majority of research suggests that this region is engaged when predicting and monitoring the consequences of one’s own behaviour in non-social contexts. How can these two viewpoints be reconciled? I will put forward a new model of the contribution of the ACC to social cognition. In this account, a specific sub-region in the gyrus (ACCg) of the ACC shows a degree of specialisation for the processing of social information. However, the computational principles that govern information processing in this sub-region mirror those of other ACC regions. Specifically, the ACCg processes predictions about the value of rewards other people will receive, and signals how wrong other people’s predictions are. I will present fMRI data that provides support for this computational account of the ACCg, as well as evidence that this model may provide a more mechanistic understanding of some of the social cognition deficits suffered by individuals with autism spectrum disorders.