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Neural bases of ingroup altruistic motivation in soccer fans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tiago Bortolini, Patrícia Bado, Sebastian Hoefle, Annerose Engel, Roland Zahn, Ricardo de Oliveira Souza, Jean-Claude Dreher, Jorge Moll

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16122
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 23 Nov 2017

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Abstract

Humans have a strong need to belong to social groups and a natural inclination to benefit ingroup members. Although the psychological mechanisms behind human prosociality have extensively been studied, the specific neural systems bridging group belongingness and altruistic motivation remain to be identified. Here, we used soccer fandom as an ecological framing of group membership to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying ingroup altruistic behaviour in male fans using event-related functional magnetic resonance. We designed an effort measure based on handgrip strength to assess the motivation to earn money (i) for oneself, (ii) for anonymous ingroup fans, or (iii) for a neutral group of anonymous non-fans. While overlapping valuation signals in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) were observed for the three conditions, the subgenual cingulate cortex (SCC) exhibited increased functional connectivity with the mOFC as well as stronger hemodynamic responses for ingroup versus outgroup decisions. These findings indicate a key role for the SCC, a region previously implicated in altruistic decisions and group affiliation, in dovetailing altruistic motivations with neural valuation systems in real-life ingroup behaviour.

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