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Abstract

This abstract describe the effect of negative feedback on performance and brain activation using an hyperscanning paradigm during a cooperative joint task.
When cooperative actions go wrong
Gatti L.2.- & Vanutelli M.E.1,2 - Balconi M.1,2
1 Research Unit in Affective and Social Neuroscience, Catholic University of Milan, Milan, Italy
2 Department of Psychology, Catholic University of Milan, Milan, Italy
Cooperation, defined as a set of interactions with others that increase shared performance, is one of
the most important human social behaviors. Cooperation secures a benefit to all the people engaged
as well as important behaviors like acting prosocially. But what happens when the joint actions are
not effective? This study aims to investigate the neural correlates of cooperation during a joint task.
To do this an hyperscanning paradigm has been used which consists in the simultaneous recording
of the cerebral activity of two or more subjects involved in interactive tasks. We asked 24
participants paired in 12 dyads to cooperate during an attentional task in a way to synchronize their
responses and obtain better outcomes. The task was sub-divided in 8 blocks with a pause halfway
assessing the goodness of the cooperation scores. The feedback was defined a priori in order to
provide a social manipulation about the performance and modify their responses. The feedback was
negative most of the times in order to frustrate the subjects and induce them to improve the
performance in the next step. The effects of the feedback were explored by means of functional
near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Results showed a specific pattern of brain activation involving
the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the superior frontal gyrus (SFG). The DLPFC
showed increased O2Hb (oxy-hemoglobin) level after the feedback, compatible with the need for
higher cognitive effort. Also, the representation of negative emotions in response to failing
interactions was signaled by a right-lateralized effect. For the STG, instead, a decreased activity
was found after the feedback, which could be interpreted as disengagement for goal-oriented social
mechanisms elicited by the negative and frustrating evaluation. Results were interpreted at light of
available knowledge on perceived self-efficacy and the implementation of common goals and
strategies.
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