A causal role for posterior medial frontal cortex in choice-induced preference change

Keise Izuma, Shyam Akula, Kou Murayama, Daw-An Wu, Marco Iacoboni, Ralph Adolphs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


After a person chooses between two items, preference for the chosen item will increase and preference for the unchosen item will decrease because of the choice made. In other words, we tend to justify or rationalize our past behavior by changing our attitude. This phenomenon of choice-induced preference change has been traditionally explained by cognitive dissonance theory. Choosing something that is disliked or not choosing something that is liked are both cognitively inconsistent and, to reduce this inconsistency, people tend to change their subsequently stated preference in accordance with their past choices. Previously, human neuroimaging studies identified posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) as a key brain region involved in cognitive dissonance. However, it remains unknown whether the pMFC plays a causal role in inducing preference change after cognitive dissonance. Here, we demonstrate that 25 min, 1 Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation applied over the pMFC significantly reduces choice-induced preference change compared with sham stimulation or control stimulation over a different brain region, demonstrating a causal role for the pMFC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3598-3606
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neuroscience
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2015

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