Science Two Brain Regions Work Towards Suspicion

Published on May 17th, 2012 | by James Johnson


Two Regions Of The Brain Lead To Suspicion

Two Brain Regions Work Towards Suspicion

Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have found two distinct regions of the brain where they believe suspicion resides. According the group the amygdala which processes fear and emotional memories and the parahippocampal gyrus which controls declarative memory and the recognition of scenes.

According to Read Montague, director of the Human Neuroimaging Laboratory and the Computational Psychiatry Unit at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute:

“We found a strong correlation between the amygdala and a baseline level of distrust, which may be based on a person’s beliefs about the trustworthiness of other people in general, his or her emotional state, and the situation at hand. What surprised us, though, is that when other people’s behavior aroused suspicion, the parahippocampal gyrus lit up, acting like an inborn lie detector.”

To examine the human brain researchers used an fMRI to look at neural activity. The study involved seventy-six pairs of players who played in 60 rounds of a simple bargaining game while there brains were scanned. At the beginning of each round the gambler would learn the value of a “widget” and then suggest a price to the seller. The seller would then set the price. If the seller’s price fell below the widget value the price would be approved with the seller receiving the buy price and the buyer receiving any difference between the selling price and the actual value. If the seller’s price however exceeded the value the trade would not go through and nobody would receive cash.

According to the study 42 percent of participants were incrementalists who were relatively honest about widget pricing, 37 percent were conservatives who withheld some information and 21 percent were strategists who acted deceptively to gain the upper hand and earn the most money.

Because buyers and sellers were not given any feedback about the accuracy of the information they were receiving they could not confirm their suspicions.

Researchers believed the baseline of suspicion for each person would have consequences on their financial success.

The group found that the amygdala activating corresponded directly to an inability to detect a trustworthy behavior while the parahippocampal gyrus interfered with the recognition of scenes.





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About the Author

James is a new media professional with more than half a decade worth of experience in the online writing space. He currently serves as the Associate Editor of and the Editor-in-Chief of He also serves as a resident writer for Splash Press Media. In his spare time James consults businesses regarding SEO and Content Development.

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