Reports linking a 'jumping-to-conclusions' bias to delusions have led to growing interest in the neurobiological correlates of probabilistic reasoning. Several brain areas have been implicated in probabilistic reasoning; however, findings are difficult to integrate into a coherent account. The present study aimed to provide additional evidence by investigating, for the first time, effective connectivity among brain areas involved in different stages of evidence gathering. We investigated evidence gathering in 25 healthy individuals using fMRI and a new paradigm (Box Task) designed such as to minimize the effects of cognitive effort and reward processing. Decisions to collect more evidence ('draws') were contrasted to decisions to reach a final choice ('conclusions') with respect to BOLD activity. Psychophysiological interaction analysis was used to investigate effective connectivity. Conclusion events were associated with extensive brain activations in widely distributed brain areas associated with the task-positive network. In contrast, draw events were characterized by higher activation in areas assumed to be part of the task-negative network. Effective connectivity between the two networks decreased during draws and increased during conclusion events. Our findings indicate that probabilistic reasoning may depend on the balance between the task-positive and task-negative network, and that shifts in connectivity between the two may be crucial for evidence gathering. Thus, abnormal connectivity between the two systems may significantly contribute to the jumping-to-conclusions bias.
Keywords: Default-mode network; Delusions; Jumping-to-conclusions; Probabilistic reasoning; Schizophrenia.
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