Same Story, Different Story: The Neural Representation of Interpretive Frameworks
Differences in people’s beliefs can substantially impact their interpretation of a series of events. In this functional MRI study, we manipulated subjects’ beliefs, leading two groups of subjects to interpret the same narrative in different ways. We found that responses in higher-order brain areas—including the default-mode network, language areas, and subsets of the mirror neuron system—tended to be similar among people who shared the same interpretation, but different from those of people with an opposing interpretation. Furthermore, the difference in neural responses between the two groups at each moment was correlated with the magnitude of the difference in the interpretation of the narrative. This study demonstrates that brain responses to the same event tend to cluster together among people who share the same views.