Focal stimulation of the temporoparietal junction improves rationality in prosocial decision‑making

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Nature Research


We tested the hypothesis that modulation of neurocomputational inputs to value-based decisionmaking affects the rationality of economic choices. The brain’s right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) has been functionally associated with both social behavior and with domain-general information processing and attention. To identify the causal function of rTPJ in prosocial decisions, we administered focal high definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) while participants allocated money between themselves and a charity in a modified dictator game. Anodal stimulation led to improved rationality as well as increased charitable giving and egalitarianism, resulting in more consistent and efficient choices and increased sensitivity to the price of giving. These results are consistent with the theory that anodal stimulation of the rTPJ increases the precision of value computations in social decision-making. Our results demonstrate that theories of rTPJ function should account for the multifaceted role of the rTPJ in the representation of social inputs into value-based decisions.