Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1715509
 
 

References (89)



 
 

Citations (3)



 


 



The Neural Correlates of Third-Party Punishment


Joshua Buckholtz


Vanderbilt University, Neuroscience Program

Christopher L. Asplund


Vanderbilt University

Paul E. Dux


Vanderbilt University

David H. Zald


Vanderbilt University

John C. Gore


Vanderbilt University

Owen D. Jones


Vanderbilt University - Law School & Dept. of Biological Sciences

Rene Marois


Vanderbilt University - Department of Psychology
Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neuroscience


Neuron, Vol. 60, pp. 940-950, December 2008

Abstract:     
This article reports the discovery, from the first full-scale law and neuroscience experiment, of the brain activity underlying punishment decisions.

We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity of subjects as they read hypothetical scenarios about harm-causing protagonists and then decided whether to punish and, if so, how much.

The key variables were: a) presence or absence of excusing, justifying, or otherwise mitigating factors (such as acting under duress); and b) harm severity (which ranged from a stolen CD to a rape/murder/torture combination).

Findings include:

(1) Analytic and emotional brain circuitries are jointly involved, yet quite separately deployed, during punishment decisions. Specifically:

(a) Analytic circuitry of the brain - centered on the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex - tracks how responsible a protagonist is for harmful behavior (but does not determine punishment levels across varying harms);

(b) Conversely, activity in brain circuitry important for experiencing emotion - the amygdala, for example - predicts punishment levels across the range of crime severity (but is uncorrelated with responsibility levels).

(2) Increased activity in a component of the so-called Theory of Mind (perspective-taking) network (the temporo-parietal junction) preceded increased activity in the analytic region, during responsibility assessments.

(3) The analytic region deployed in distinguishing between high and low responsibility for harmful behavior in third-party contexts is the same region that is most involved in punishing unfair economic behavior in two-party interactions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 11

Keywords: punishment, neuroscience, judging, decision making, sentencing, judges, jurors, law and neuroscience, brain, brain imaging, brain scan, neuroscience, functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, neuroimaging, behavioral biology, law and emotion, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: November 30, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Buckholtz, Joshua and Asplund, Christopher L. and Dux, Paul E. and Zald, David H. and Gore, John C. and Jones, Owen D. and Marois, Rene, The Neural Correlates of Third-Party Punishment. Neuron, Vol. 60, pp. 940-950, December 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1715509

Contact Information

Joshua Buckholtz
Vanderbilt University, Neuroscience Program ( email )
Nashville, TN 37232-0685
United States
Christopher L. Asplund
Vanderbilt University ( email )
Nashville, TN 37240
United States
Paul E. Dux
Vanderbilt University ( email )
Nashville, TN 37240
United States
David H. Zald
Vanderbilt University ( email )
Nashville, TN 37240
United States
John C. Gore
Vanderbilt University ( email )
Nashville, TN 37240
United States
Owen D. Jones (Contact Author)
Vanderbilt University - Law School & Dept. of Biological Sciences ( email )
131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
Rene Marois
Vanderbilt University - Department of Psychology
Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neuroscience
( email )
Nashville, TN 37240
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,092
Downloads: 219
Download Rank: 79,840
References:  89
Citations:  3
Paper comments
No comments have been made on this paper

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo8 in 0.297 seconds