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To survive, humans must estimate their own ability and the abilities of others. We found that, although people estimated their abilities on the basis of their own performance in a rational manner, their estimates of themselves were partly merged with the performance of others. Reciprocally, their ability estimates for others also reflected their own, as well as the others', performance. Self-other mergence operated in a context-dependent manner: interacting with high or low performers, respectively, enhanced and diminished own ability estimates in cooperative contexts, but the opposite occurred in competitive contexts. Self-other mergence not only influenced subjective evaluations, it also affected how people subsequently objectively adjusted their performance. Perigenual anterior cingulate cortex tracked one's own performance. Dorsomedial frontal area 9 tracked others' performances, but also integrated contextual and self-related information. Self-other mergence increased with the strength of self and other representations in area 9, suggesting it carries interdependent representations of self and other.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.neuron.2016.06.022

Type

Journal article

Journal

Neuron

Publication Date

20/07/2016

Volume

91

Pages

482 - 493

Keywords

competition, cooperation, decision making, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, fMRI, social cognition, theory of mind