Contradiction in universal and particular reasoning

Maria Teresa Medaglia, Franca Tecchio, Stefano Seri, Giorgio Di Lorenzo, Paolo M. Rossini, Camillo Porcaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A wide range of essential reasoning tasks rely on contradiction identification, a cornerstone of human rationality, communication and debate founded on the inversion of the logical operators "Every" and "Some." A high-density electroencephalographic (EEG) study was performed in 11 normal young adults. The cerebral network involved in the identification of contradiction included the orbito-frontal and anterior-cingulate cortices and the temporo-polar cortices. The event-related dynamic of this network showed an early negative deflection lasting 500 ms after sentence presentation. This was followed by a positive deflection lasting 1.5 s, which was different for the two logical operators. A lesser degree of network activation (either in neuron number or their level of phase locking or both) occurred while processing statements with "Some," suggesting that this was a relatively simpler scenario with one example to be figured out, instead of the many examples or the absence of a counterexample searched for while processing statements with "Every." A self-generated reward system seemed to resonate the recruited circuitry when the contradictory task is successfully completed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4187-4197
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Contradictory reasoning
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Independent component analysis (ICA)
  • Logical operators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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