Cortical activity and connectivity of human brain during the prisoner's dilemma: an EEG hyperscanning study.

F. Babiloni, L. Astolfi, F. Cincotti, D. Mattia, A. Tocci, A. Tarantino, M. Marciani, S. Salinari, S. Gao, A. Colosimo, F. De Vico Fallani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A major limitation of the approaches used in most of the studies performed so far for the characterization of the brain responses during social interaction is that only one of the participating brains is measured each time. The "interaction" between cooperating, competing or communicating brains is thus not measured directly, but inferred by independent observations aggregated by cognitive models and assumptions that link behavior and neural activation. In this paper, we use the simultaneous neuroelectric recording of several subjects engaged in cooperative games (EEG hyperscanning). This EEG hyperscanning allow us to observe and model directly the neural signature of human interactions in order to understand the cerebral processes generating and generated by social cooperation or competition. We used a paradigm called Prisoner's dilemma derived from the game theory. Results collected in a population of 22 subjects suggested that the most consistently activated structure in social interaction paradigms is the medial prefrontal cortex, which is found to be active in all the conflict situations analyzed. The role of the anterior cingulated cortex (ACC) assumes a main character being a discriminant factor for the "defect" attitude of the entire population examined. This observation is compatible with the role that the Theory of Mind assigns to the ACC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Signal Processing
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics


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