The study on amygdala, a small structure at the front end of the brain's temporal lobe, could have implications for people with autism, schizophrenia or anxiety-related disorders.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University and Duke University in US looked at the social behaviour of rhesus macaques, a non-human primate species.
The researchers incorporated a task they developed four years ago as a way to observe how animals make beneficial decisions, a process they described as a reward-donation task.
The researchers recorded the neural activity of the amygdala of each animal, to note any correlations between what was happening in the brain and their outward actions.
They found that neural activity in the amygdala reflected the value of the recipient's reward in the same way it reflected the value of the reward for the actor.
The scientists could predict when actors would give rewards to the recipients based on these neural responses.
The findings were published in the journal PNAS.


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