• Cognitive control in belief-laden reasoning during conclusion processing: An ERP study

      Luo, Junlong; Liu, Xin; Stupple, Edward J. N.; Zhang, Entao; Xiao, Xiao; Jia, Lei; Yang, Qun; Li, Haijiang; Zhang, Qinglin; University of Derby (Taylor and Francis, 2013-06)
      Belief bias is the tendency to accept conclusions that are compatible with existing beliefs more frequently than those that contradict beliefs. It is one of the most replicated behavioral findings in the reasoning literature. Recently, neuroimaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event-related potentials (ERPs) have provided a new perspective and have demonstrated neural correlates of belief bias that have been viewed as supportive of dual-process theories of belief bias. However, fMRI studies have tended to focus on conclusion processing, while ERPs studies have been concerned with the processing of premises. In the present research, the electrophysiological correlates of cognitive control were studied among 12 subjects using high-density ERPs. The analysis was focused on the conclusion presentation phase and was limited to normatively sanctioned responses to valid–believable and valid–unbelievable problems. Results showed that when participants gave normatively sanctioned responses to problems where belief and logic conflicted, a more positive ERP deflection was elicited than for normatively sanctioned responses to nonconflict problems. This was observed from −400 to −200 ms prior to the correct response being given. The positive component is argued to be analogous to the late positive component (LPC) involved in cognitive control processes. This is consistent with the inhibition of empirically anomalous information when conclusions are unbelievable. These data are important in elucidating the neural correlates of belief bias by providing evidence for electrophysiological correlates of conflict resolution during conclusion processing. Moreover, they are supportive of dual-process theories of belief bias that propose conflict detection and resolution processes as central to the explanation of belief bias.