Explaining modulation of reasoning by belief

Cognition 87 (1):B11-B22 (2003)
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Although deductive reasoning is a closed system, one's beliefs about the world can influence validity judgements. To understand the associated functional neuroanatomy of this belief-bias we studied 14 volunteers using event-related fMRI, as they performed reasoning tasks under neutral, facilitatory and inhibitory belief conditions. We found evidence for the engagement of a left temporal lobe system during belief-based reasoning and a bilateral parietal lobe system during belief-neutral reasoning. Activation of right lateral prefrontal cortex was evident when subjects inhibited a prepotent response associated with belief-bias and correctly completed a logical task, a finding consistent with its putative role in cognitive monitoring. By contrast, when logical reasoning was overcome by belief-bias, there was engagement of ventral medial prefrontal cortex, a region implicated in affective processing. This latter involvement suggests that belief-bias effects in reasoning may be mediated through an influence of emotional processes on reasoning



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