FUNCTIONAL NEUROIMAGING OF BELIEF DISBELIEF AND UNCERTAINTY PDF

Mark S. Cohen, PhD Objective: The difference between believing and disbelieving a proposition is one of the most potent regulators of human behavior and emotion. When we accept a statement as true, it becomes the basis for further thought and action; rejected as false, it remains a string of words. The purpose of this study was to differentiate belief, disbelief, and uncertainty at the level of the brain. To characterize belief, disbelief, and uncertainty in a content-independent manner, we included statements from a wide range of categories: autobiographical, mathematical, geographical, religious, ethical, semantic, and factual. Results: The states of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty differentially activated distinct regions of the prefrontal and parietal cortices, as well as the basal ganglia.

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Mark S. Cohen, PhD Objective: The difference between believing and disbelieving a proposition is one of the most potent regulators of human behavior and emotion. When we accept a statement as true, it becomes the basis for further thought and action; rejected as false, it remains a string of words.

The purpose of this study was to differentiate belief, disbelief, and uncertainty at the level of the brain. To characterize belief, disbelief, and uncertainty in a content-independent manner, we included statements from a wide range of categories: autobiographical, mathematical, geographical, religious, ethical, semantic, and factual.

Results: The states of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty differentially activated distinct regions of the prefrontal and parietal cortices, as well as the basal ganglia. Interpretation: Belief and disbelief differ from uncertainty in that both provide information that can subsequently inform behavior and emotion.

The mechanism underlying this difference appears to involve the anterior cingulate cortex ACC and the caudate. Truth may be beauty, and beauty truth, in more than a metaphorical sense, and false propositions might actually disgust us.

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