We tend to express more positive judgments and behaviors toward individuals belonging to our own group compared to other (out-) groups. In this study, we assessed the role of the cerebellum and of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) - two regions critically implicated in social cognition processes - in mediating implicit valenced attitudes toward in-group and out-group individuals. To this aim, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in combination with a standard attitude priming task, in which Caucasian participants had to categorize the valence of a series of adjectives primed by either an in-group or an out-group face. In two behavioral experiments, we found an in-group bias (i.e. faster categorization of positive adjectives when preceded by in-group faces) but no evidence of an out-group bias. Interestingly, TMS over both the dmPFC and over the (right) cerebellum significantly interfered with the modulation exerted by group membership on adjective valence classification, abolishing the in-group bias observed at baseline. Overall, our data suggest that both the dmPFC and the cerebellum play a causal role in mediating implicit social attitudes.
- Prefrontal Cortex/physiology
- Social Behavior
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
- Young Adult