UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Brain study reveals that agreement is rewarding

18 June 2010

A new research study suggests that – at least at a neuronal level – agreement is much more satisfying than disagreement. 

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Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL and Aarhus University in Denmark have found that the ‘reward’ area of the brain is activated when people agree with our opinions.

The study, published in the journal Current Biology, suggests that scientists may be able to predict how much people can be influenced by the opinions of others on the basis of the level of activity in the reward area.

Professor Chris Frith (UCL Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging) and colleagues examined the effect that having experts agree with a person’s opinions has on activity in their ventral striatum, the area of the brain associated with receiving rewards.

Expert opinions about a piece of music produced more activity in this brain area when the subject shared the opinion. Expert opinions could also alter the amount of ventral striatum reward activity that receiving the music could produce – depending on how likely the person was to change his or her mind on the basis of those opinions.

When the reviewers agreed with the subject’s own choice, the team found that the subject’s ventral striatum, the area of the brain associated with rewards,  became active. Activity in this area tended to be strongest when both reviewers agreed with the subject.

“It seems that not only are some people more influenced by the opinions of others, but by looking at activity in the brain, we can tell who those people are,” said Professor Frith.

Read more >> UCL News

Reference >> How the Opinion of Others Affects Our Valuation of Objects
Current Biology, 17 June 2010. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2010.04.055
Daniel K. Campbell-Meiklejohnsend email, Dominik R. Bach, Andreas Roepstorff, Raymond J. Dolan, Chris D. Frith