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The neural basis of conditional reasoning: An event-related potential study

Authors
Journal
Neuropsychologia
0028-3932
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
45
Issue
7
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.11.014
Keywords
  • Conditional Reasoning
  • Rule Theory
  • Model Theory
  • Event-Related Brain Potential
Disciplines
  • Logic

Abstract

Abstract The spatiotemporal analysis of brain activation during the execution of conditional reasoning tasks (the four inference forms: Modus Ponens (MP), Modus Tollens (MT), affirming the consequent (AC), and denying the antecedent (DA)) and one baseline task (BS) was performed in 12 normal young adult participants using high-density event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Results showed that the early components elicited by the five task types were not significantly different. Reasoning tasks elicited a more negative EPR deflection (N600) than did the BS task in the time window of 500–700 ms after onset of the minor premise. Dipole source analysis of the difference wave (MP − BS) suggested that a generator localized in the left anterior cingulate cortex (BA 24) was involved in the activation and the application of the inference rules. ERP components of the five tasks were similar in the subsequent time period between 700 and 1700 ms. Following that period, a greater negativity in the reasoning tasks, in comparison to the BS task, developed between 1700 and 2000 ms poststimulus over the left fronto-central scalp regions. A generator of this effect was located in the right anterior cingulate cortex (BA 24) and was possibly related to cognitive control. The results indicate that the cingulate cortex was activated by conditional reasoning tasks with purely abstract materials and support the view that human reasoning is not a unified phenomenon but is content-sensitive.

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