Unfolding the spatial and temporal neural processing of making dishonest choices

Delin SUN, Tatia M. C. LEE, Zhaoxin WANG, Che Hin Chetwyn CHAN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


To understand the neural processing that underpins dishonest behavior in an economic exchange game task, this study employed both functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event-related potential (ERP) methodologies to examine the neural conditions of 25 participants while they were making either dishonest or honest choices. It was discovered that dishonest choices, contrary to honest choices, elicited stronger fMRI activations in bilateral striatum and anterior insula. It also induced fluctuations in ERP amplitudes within two time windows, which are 270–30 milliseconds before and 110–290 milliseconds after the response, respectively. Importantly, when making either dishonest or honest choices, human and computer counterparts were associated with distinct fMRI activations in the left insula and different ERP amplitudes at medial and right central sites from 80 milliseconds before to 250 milliseconds after the response. These results support the hypothesis that there would be distinct neural processing during making dishonest decisions, especially when the subject considers the interests of the counterpart. Furthermore, the fMRI and ERP findings, together with ERP source reconstruction, clearly delineate the temporal sequence of the neural processes of a dishonest decision: the striatum is activated before response, then the left insula is involved around the time of response, and finally the thalamus is activated after response. Copyright © 2016 Sun et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0153660
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


Sun, D., Lee, T. M. C., Wang, Z., & Chan, C. C. H. (2016). Unfolding the spatial and temporal neural processing of making dishonest choices. PLoS One, 11(4). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153660


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