When decisions of others matter to me: An electrophysiological analysis

Josep Marco-Pallarés, Ulrike M. Krämer, Saskia Strehl, Andrea Schröder, Thomas F. Münte*

*Corresponding author for this work
42 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Actions of others may have immediate consequences for oneself. We probed the neural responses associated with the observation of another person's action using event-related potentials in a modified gambling task. In this task a "performer" bet either a higher or lower number and could win or lose this amount. Three different groups of "observers" were also studied. The first (neutral) group simply observed the performer's action, which had no consequences for the observers. In the second (parallel) group, wins/losses of the performer were paralleled by similar wins and losses by the observer. In the third (reverse) group, wins of the performer led to a loss of the observer and vice versa.Results: ERPs of the performers showed a mediofrontal feedback related negativity (FRN) to losses. The neutral and parallel observer groups did similarly show an FRN response to the performer's losses with a topography indistinguishable from that seen in the performers. In the reverse group, however, the FRN occurred for wins of the performer which translated to losses for the observer.Conclusions: Taking into account previous experiments, we suggest that the FRN response in observers is driven by two evaluative processes (a) related to the benefit/loss for oneself and (b) related to the benefit/loss of another person.

Original languageEnglish
Article number86
JournalBMC Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 29.07.2010

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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