Human Frontal-Subcortical Circuit and Asymmetric Belief Updating.
Moutsiana C., Charpentier CJ., Garrett N., Cohen MX., Sharot T.
UNLABELLED: How humans integrate information to form beliefs about reality is a question that has engaged scientists for centuries, yet the biological system supporting this process is not well understood. One of the most salient attributes of information is valence. Whether a piece of news is good or bad is critical in determining whether it will alter our beliefs. Here, we reveal a frontal-subcortical circuit in the left hemisphere that is simultaneously associated with enhanced integration of favorable information into beliefs and impaired integration of unfavorable information. Specifically, for favorable information, stronger white matter connectivity within this system, particularly between the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and left subcortical regions (including the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, putamen, and pallidum), as well as insular cortex, is associated with greater change in belief. However, for unfavorable information, stronger connectivity within this system, particularly between the left IFG and left pallidum, putamen, and insular cortex, is associated with reduced change in beliefs. These novel results are consistent with models suggesting that partially separable processes govern learning from favorable and unfavorable information. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Beliefs of what may happen in the future are important, because they guide decisions and actions. Here, we illuminate how structural brain connectivity is related to the generation of subjective beliefs. We focus on how the valence of information is related to people's tendency to alter their beliefs. By quantifying the extent to which participants update their beliefs in response to desirable and undesirable information and relating those measures to the strength of white matter connectivity using diffusion tensor imaging, we characterize a left frontal-subcortical system that is associated simultaneously with greater belief updating in response to favorable information and reduced belief updating in response to unfavorable information. This neural architecture may allow valence to be incorporated into belief updating.