Causal role of a neural system for separating and selecting multidimensional social cognitive information.
Mahmoodi A., Nili H., Harbison C., Hamilton S., Trudel N., Bang D., Rushworth MFS.
People are multi-faceted, typically good at some things but bad at others, and a critical aspect of social judgement is the ability to focus on those traits relevant for the task at hand. However, it remains unknown how the brain supports such context-dependent social judgement. Here, we examine how people represent multidimensional individuals, and how the brain extracts relevant information and filters out irrelevant information when comparing individuals within a specific dimension. Using human fMRI, we identify distinct neural representations in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) and anterior insula (AI) supporting separation and selection of information for context-dependent social judgement. Causal evaluation using non-invasive brain stimulation shows that AI disruption alters the impact of relevant information on social comparison, whereas dmPFC disruption only affects the impact of irrelevant information. This neural circuit is distinct from the one supporting integration across, as opposed to separation of, different features of a multidimensional cognitive space.