Cooperation and competition in the brain: cortical and personality components

Davide Crivelli, Michela Balconi, Maria Elide Vanutelli

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaContributo a convegnopeer review


In the present research cooperative and competitive tasks were compared to explore their temporal and spatial dynamics in the brain through electrocortical (EEG) and hemodynamic (functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, fNIRS) measures. Two distinct groups of subjects were submitted to a joint cooperative (experiment 1) or competitive (experiment 2) game in the form of a sustained attention task. Participants were required to synchronize their behavioral responses in exp 1, and to perform better than the competitor in exp 2, considering both accuracy (Error Rate, ER) and Response Times (RTs). During the experiment subjects constantly received feedbacks about their performance, which was experimentally manipulated. In addition, a personality trait measure (Behavioral Activation System, BAS) was submitted and used to qualify participants according to their rewarding attitude. Also, subjects were required to assess their self-perception of social ranking during the task. Their behavioral performance was calculated to assess the relation between all these different measures. Results showed increased left prefrontal cortical responsiveness in high-BAS participants in case of both cooperation and competition. Moreover, high-BAS participants showed greater left frontal activity during the cooperative task, in parallel with the perception of increased social ranking and better performance. Such results demonstrate that cooperation is related to the highest cortical responsivity within the left prefrontal cortex, especially for high-BAS subjects. This left hemisphere effect, in fact, is related to the individual approach attitude in a way that individuals with higher BAS profiles were more likely to show dominant and proactive attitudes in situations that produce positive and rewarding effects. Indeed, personality traits proved to affect the representation of social hierarchy and to improve the behavioral outcome.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)152-153
Numero di pagine2
RivistaNeuropsychological Trends
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2016
EventoXXIV Congresso Nazionale della Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia - SIPF - Milano
Durata: 27 ott 201629 ott 2016


  • Competition
  • Cooperation
  • EEG, fNIRS
  • Personality


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