Multiple facets of social influence in goal-directed learning
One of the main challenges in social affective neuroscience originates from the fact that humans do not make decisions alone, but rather, are influenced by their social environment. However, few studies have inspected the underlying neurocomputational processes, in particular when learning from oneself and learning from others coexist in the same environment. Here, I will present a real-time multi-player goal-directed learning paradigm, where, within each group of five individuals, one participant was scanned with MRI. Leveraging reinforcement learning models and fMRI we captured nuanced distinction between direct valuation through experience and vicarious valuation through observation, and their dissociable, but interacting neural representations in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex, respectively, respectively. Connectivity analyses revealed increased functional coupling between the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) representing instantaneous social information and the putamen, when individuals made behavioral adjustment as opposed to when they stuck with their initial choice. Together, these data provide a comprehensive behavioral and neurocomputational mechanism of social influence in goal-directed learning and the potential associated social specificity.