Structured event complexes in the medial prefrontal cortex support counterfactual representations for future planning

Aron K. Barbey, Frank Krueger, Jordan Grafman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Scopus citations

Abstract

We propose that counterfactual representations for reasoning about the past or predicting the future depend on structured event complexes (SECs) in the human prefrontal cortex (PFC; 'What would happen if X were performed in the past or enacted in the future?'). We identify three major categories of counterfactual thought (concerning action versus inaction, the self versus other and upward versus downward thinking) and propose that each form of inference recruits SEC representations in distinct regions of the medial PFC. We develop a process model of the regulatory functions these representations serve and draw conclusions about the importance of SECs for explaining the past and predicting the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1291-1300
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume364
Issue number1521
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

Keywords

  • Counterfactual reasoning
  • Event knowledge
  • Planning
  • Prediction
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Structured event complexes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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