Explaining modulation of reasoning by belief

Vinod Goel, Raymond J. Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although deductive reasoning is a closed system, one's beliefs about the world can influence validity judgements. To understand the associated functional neuroanatomy of this belief-bias we studied 14 volunteers using event-related fMRI, as they performed reasoning tasks under neutral, facilitatory and inhibitory belief conditions. We found evidence for the engagement of a left temporal lobe system during belief-based reasoning and a bilateral parietal lobe system during belief-neutral reasoning. Activation of right lateral prefrontal cortex was evident when subjects inhibited a prepotent response associated with belief-bias and correctly completed a logical task, a finding consistent with its putative role in cognitive monitoring. By contrast, when logical reasoning was overcome by belief-bias, there was engagement of ventral medial prefrontal cortex, a region implicated in affective processing. This latter involvement suggests that belief-bias effects in reasoning may be mediated through an influence of emotional processes on reasoning.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2003


  • Belief-bias
  • Cognition
  • Executive functions
  • Neural basis of reasoning
  • Neuroimaging
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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