Contradiction in universal and particular reasoning

Authors

  • Maria Teresa Medaglia,

    1. Philosophy Department, Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, University “Roma Tre,” Rome, Italy
    2. The Wellcome Trust Laboratory for MEG Studies, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
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  • Franca Tecchio,

    1. ISTC-CNR, Ospedale Fatebenefratelli, Isola Tiberina, 00186 Rome, Italy
    2. Casa di Cura San Raffaele Cassino e IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Italy
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  • Stefano Seri,

    1. The Wellcome Trust Laboratory for MEG Studies, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
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  • Giorgio Di Lorenzo,

    1. Laboratory of Psychophysiology, Psychiatric Clinic, Department of Neuroscience, University of Rome “Tor Vergata,” Rome, Italy
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  • Paolo M. Rossini,

    1. Casa di Cura San Raffaele Cassino e IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana, Italy
    2. Clinical Neurology, Campus Bio-Medico University, Rome, Italy
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  • Camillo Porcaro

    Corresponding author
    1. ISTC-CNR, Ospedale Fatebenefratelli, Isola Tiberina, 00186 Rome, Italy
    2. School of Psychology and Birmingham University Imaging Centre (BUIC), University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
    3. ITAB—Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies, “G. D'Annunzio” University, Chieti, Italy
    • Research Fellow, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom
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Abstract

A wide range of essential reasoning tasks rely on contradiction identification, a cornerstone of human rationality, communication and debate founded on the inversion of the logical operators “Every” and “Some.” A high-density electroencephalographic (EEG) study was performed in 11 normal young adults. The cerebral network involved in the identification of contradiction included the orbito-frontal and anterior-cingulate cortices and the temporo-polar cortices. The event-related dynamic of this network showed an early negative deflection lasting 500 ms after sentence presentation. This was followed by a positive deflection lasting 1.5 s, which was different for the two logical operators. A lesser degree of network activation (either in neuron number or their level of phase locking or both) occurred while processing statements with “Some,” suggesting that this was a relatively simpler scenario with one example to be figured out, instead of the many examples or the absence of a counterexample searched for while processing statements with “Every.” A self-generated reward system seemed to resonate the recruited circuitry when the contradictory task is successfully completed. Hum Brain Mapp, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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