22 Aug Brain Signaling Finds Dominant Individuals Make Accurate Decisions Faster
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Carmen Sandi
Director, Brain Mind Institute
Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics
Brain Mind Institute
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Social hierarchies are pervasive and social status has deep consequences for health, wellbeing and societal organizations. Socially dominant individuals have priority access to resources and are more likely to become leaders. Although there are drastic differences in the predisposition of individuals to attain or strive for dominance, very little is known regarding the factors that predispose individuals to attain dominance. Does dominance become visible only in social context?
Here, we performed five behavioral experiments and consistently found that individuals high in dominance are faster than less dominant ones to respond in choice situations, though not less accurate, which suggests that promptness to respond may predispose individuals to become dominant. Strikingly, using high-density EEG, we find that promptness to respond in dominant individuals is reflected in a strongly amplified brain signal at approximately 240 ms post-stimulus presentation. At this latency, participants’ reaction times were negatively correlated with activity in the cingulate cortex. Our results may open a new research approach using EEG signatures as a measure for dominance, independent of social context.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our findings reveal that high dominance individuals are characterized by their speed of responding in decision-making situations, also when they act independently, not just in social situations.
We also reveal a brain signal that might be a biomarker for dominant individual when taking fast decisions. Furthermore, our results suggest that, from an evolutionary perspective, fast speed of acting could be a trait related to social dominance, as fast responding can provide competitive advantage and prompt leadership.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: In the future, it will be important to determine whether the brain signal observed in high dominance individuals -that predicts their promptness to respond- is susceptible to change, for example, when a dominant individual occupies a subordinate role and whether this signal is related to rank in women as well. Interestingly, given that social hierarchies are already observed in preschool children, it will also be relevant to investigate during which period of development the increased brain signal emerges; and whether even stronger signals are observed in groups known to be particularly dominant, such as CEOs.
Janir da Cruz, João Rodrigues, John C Thoresen, Vitaly Chicherov, Patrícia Figueiredo, Michael H Herzog, Carmen Sandi. Dominant men are faster in decision-making situations and exhibit a distinct neural signal for promptness. Cerebral Cortex, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhy195
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