We often change our behavior to conform to real or imagined group pressure. Social influence on our behavior has been extensively studied in social psychology, but its neural mechanisms have remained largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the transient downregulation of the posterior medial frontal cortex by theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation reduces conformity, as indicated by reduced conformal adjustments in line with group opinion. Both the extent and probability of conformal behavioral adjustments decreased significantly relative to a sham and a control stimulation over another brain area. The posterior part of the medial frontal cortex has previously been implicated in behavioral and attitudinal adjustments. Here, we provide the first interventional evidence of its critical role in social influence on human behavior.

doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1869-11.2011, hdl.handle.net/1765/25748
ERIM Article Series (EAS)
The Journal of Neuroscience
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Klucharev, V, Smidts, A, Fernandez, G, & Munneke, M.A.M. (2011). Downregulation of the Posterior Medial Frontal Cortex Prevents Social Conformity. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(33), 11934–11940. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1869-11.2011