The role of right temporoparietal junction in processing social prediction error across relationship contexts

Bo Kyung Park, Dominic Fareri, Mauricio Delgado, Liane Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


How do people update their impressions of close others? Although people may be motivated to maintain their positive impressions, they may also update their impressions when their expectations are violated (i.e. prediction error). Combining neuroimaging and computational modeling, we test the hypothesis that brain regions associated with theory of mind, especially right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ), underpin both motivated impression maintenance and impression updating evoked by prediction error. Participants had money either given to or taken away from them by a friend or a stranger and were then asked to rate each partner on trustworthiness and closeness across trials. Overall, participants engaged in less impression updating for friends vs strangers. Decreased rTPJ activity in response to a friend's negative behavior (taking money) was associated with reduced negative updating and increased positive ratings of the friend. However, to the extent that participants did update their impressions (more negative ratings) of friends, this behavioral pattern was explained by greater prediction error and greater rTPJ activity. These findings suggest that rTPJ recruitment represents the integration of prediction error signals and the capacity to overcome people's motivation to maintain positive impressions of friends in the face of conflicting evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)772-781
Number of pages10
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • impression updating
  • motivated cognition
  • social prediction error
  • theory of mind


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