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Fast and Automatic Activation of an Abstract Representation of Money in the Human Ventral Visual Pathway (An Abstract Representation of Money)

Money, when used as an incentive, activates the same neural circuits as rewards associated with physiological needs. However, unlike physiological rewards, monetary stimuli are cultural artifacts: how are monetary stimuli identified in the first place? How and when does the brain identify a valid co... Full description

Journal Title: PLoS ONE 2011, Vol.6(11), p.e28229
Main Author: Tallon-Baudry, Catherine
Other Authors: Meyniel, Florent , Bourgeois-Gironde, Sacha
Format: Electronic Article Electronic Article
Language: English
Subjects:
ID: E-ISSN: 1932-6203 ; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028229
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recordid: plos10.1371/journal.pone.0028229
title: Fast and Automatic Activation of an Abstract Representation of Money in the Human Ventral Visual Pathway (An Abstract Representation of Money)
format: Article
creator:
  • Tallon-Baudry, Catherine
  • Meyniel, Florent
  • Bourgeois-Gironde, Sacha
subjects:
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Social And Behavioral Sciences
  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Neurological Disorders
ispartof: PLoS ONE, 2011, Vol.6(11), p.e28229
description: Money, when used as an incentive, activates the same neural circuits as rewards associated with physiological needs. However, unlike physiological rewards, monetary stimuli are cultural artifacts: how are monetary stimuli identified in the first place? How and when does the brain identify a valid coin, i.e. a disc of metal that is, by social agreement, endowed with monetary properties? We took advantage of the changes in the Euro area in 2002 to compare neural responses to valid coins (Euros, Australian Dollars) with neural responses to invalid coins that have lost all monetary properties (French Francs, Finnish Marks). We show in magneto-encephalographic recordings, that the ventral visual pathway automatically distinguishes between valid and invalid coins, within only ∼150 ms. This automatic categorization operates as well on coins subjects were familiar with as on unfamiliar coins. No difference between neural responses to scrambled controls could be detected. These results could suggest the existence of a generic, all-purpose neural representation of money that is independent of experience. This finding is reminiscent of a central assumption in economics, money fungibility, or the fact that a unit of money is substitutable to another. From a neural point of view, our findings may indicate that the ventral visual pathway, a system previously thought to analyze visual features such as shape or color and to be influenced by daily experience, could also able to use conceptual attributes such as monetary validity to categorize familiar as well as unfamiliar visual objects. The symbolic abilities of the posterior fusiform region suggested here could constitute an efficient neural substrate to deal with culturally defined symbols, independently of experience, which probably fostered money's cultural emergence and success.
language: eng
source:
identifier: E-ISSN: 1932-6203 ; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028229
fulltext: fulltext
issn:
  • 1932-6203
  • 19326203
url: Link


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titleFast and Automatic Activation of an Abstract Representation of Money in the Human Ventral Visual Pathway (An Abstract Representation of Money)
creatorTallon-Baudry, Catherine ; Meyniel, Florent ; Bourgeois-Gironde, Sacha
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subjectResearch Article ; Biology ; Medicine ; Social And Behavioral Sciences ; Physiology ; Neuroscience ; Neurological Disorders
descriptionMoney, when used as an incentive, activates the same neural circuits as rewards associated with physiological needs. However, unlike physiological rewards, monetary stimuli are cultural artifacts: how are monetary stimuli identified in the first place? How and when does the brain identify a valid coin, i.e. a disc of metal that is, by social agreement, endowed with monetary properties? We took advantage of the changes in the Euro area in 2002 to compare neural responses to valid coins (Euros, Australian Dollars) with neural responses to invalid coins that have lost all monetary properties (French Francs, Finnish Marks). We show in magneto-encephalographic recordings, that the ventral visual pathway automatically distinguishes between valid and invalid coins, within only ∼150 ms. This automatic categorization operates as well on coins subjects were familiar with as on unfamiliar coins. No difference between neural responses to scrambled controls could be detected. These results could suggest the existence of a generic, all-purpose neural representation of money that is independent of experience. This finding is reminiscent of a central assumption in economics, money fungibility, or the fact that a unit of money is substitutable to another. From a neural point of view, our findings may indicate that the ventral visual pathway, a system previously thought to analyze visual features such as shape or color and to be influenced by daily experience, could also able to use conceptual attributes such as monetary validity to categorize familiar as well as unfamiliar visual objects. The symbolic abilities of the posterior fusiform region suggested here could constitute an efficient neural substrate to deal with culturally defined symbols, independently of experience, which probably fostered money's cultural emergence and success.
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abstractMoney, when used as an incentive, activates the same neural circuits as rewards associated with physiological needs. However, unlike physiological rewards, monetary stimuli are cultural artifacts: how are monetary stimuli identified in the first place? How and when does the brain identify a valid coin, i.e. a disc of metal that is, by social agreement, endowed with monetary properties? We took advantage of the changes in the Euro area in 2002 to compare neural responses to valid coins (Euros, Australian Dollars) with neural responses to invalid coins that have lost all monetary properties (French Francs, Finnish Marks). We show in magneto-encephalographic recordings, that the ventral visual pathway automatically distinguishes between valid and invalid coins, within only ∼150 ms. This automatic categorization operates as well on coins subjects were familiar with as on unfamiliar coins. No difference between neural responses to scrambled controls could be detected. These results could suggest the existence of a generic, all-purpose neural representation of money that is independent of experience. This finding is reminiscent of a central assumption in economics, money fungibility, or the fact that a unit of money is substitutable to another. From a neural point of view, our findings may indicate that the ventral visual pathway, a system previously thought to analyze visual features such as shape or color and to be influenced by daily experience, could also able to use conceptual attributes such as monetary validity to categorize familiar as well as unfamiliar visual objects. The symbolic abilities of the posterior fusiform region suggested here could constitute an efficient neural substrate to deal with culturally defined symbols, independently of experience, which probably fostered money's cultural emergence and success.
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date2011-11-30