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Neuroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior$
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Silvia A. Bunge and Jonathan D. Wallis

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195314274

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195314274.001.0001

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 Abstraction of Mental Representations: Theoretical Considerations and Neuroscientific Evidence

 Abstraction of Mental Representations: Theoretical Considerations and Neuroscientific Evidence

Chapter:
(p.107) 6 Abstraction of Mental Representations: Theoretical Considerations and Neuroscientific Evidence
Source:
Neuroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior
Author(s):

Kalina Christoff

Kamyar Keramatian

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195314274.003.0007

Humans are unique in being able to follow rules at a high order of abstraction—or complex systems of abstract rules that are themselves related in an abstract way. This chapter presents findings that provide evidence for specific involvement of the human lateral prefrontal cortex in enabling not only the flexible switching of rules, but also the process of establishing automaticity at high levels of abstraction. Results regarding such automaticity are discussed in a cognitive and social neuroscience context. These lateral prefrontal cortex regions are typically considered specific to controlled, rule‐guided behavior; however, under conditions requiring complex systems of rules to be followed, these same regions appear to support the formation of complex automatic behaviors. This somewhat unexpected finding of the reliance of automaticity on the lateral prefrontal cortex underscores the importance of investigating rule‐guided behavior in its full, uniquely human, complexity.

Keywords:   abstraction, social neuroscience, shifting, automaticity

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