• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Working paper

Neural Mechanisms of the Postdecisional Spreading-of-Alternatives Effect: EEG Study

Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that our preferences are modulated by the mere act of choosing. According to the cognitive dissonance theory, a choice between two similarly valued alternatives creates a psychological tension (cognitive dissonance) that is reduced by a post-decisional spreading-of-alternatives effect item being later evaluated more positively and the rejected item more negatively. Previous neuroimaging studies indicated a central role in the medial prefrontal cortex in cognitive dissonance. In this work, we used electroencephalography to investigate the similarity of neural mechanisms underlying postdecisional preference change and general performance monitoring mechanisms. Our study demonstrates that decisions associated with stronger cognitive dissonance, trigger a stronger negative fronto-central evoked response similar to the error-related negativity (ERN). Furthermore, the ERN correlated with the post-decisional spreading-of-alternatives effect. ERN has been previously associated with incorrect responses and a general performance monitoring mechanism. Thus, our results suggest that cognitive dissonance can be reflected in the activity of the medial prefrontal cortex as part of the general performance-monitoring circuitry.