Humans use theory of mind when predicting the thoughts and feelings and actions of others. There is accumulating evidence that cooperation with a computerized game correlates with a unique pattern of brain activation. To investigate the neural correlates of cooperation in real-time we conducted an fMRI hyperscanning study. We hypothesized that real-time cooperation to complete a maze task, using a blind-driving paradigm, would activate substrates implicated in theory of mind. We also hypothesized that cooperation would activate neural reward centers more than when participants completed the maze themselves. Of interest and in support of our hypothesis we found left caudate and putamen activation when participants worked together to complete the maze. This suggests that cooperation during task completion is inherently rewarding. This finding represents one of the first discoveries of a proximate neural mechanism for group based interactions in real-time, which indirectly supports the social brain hypothesis.
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