Contradiction is a cornerstone of human rationality, essential for everyday life and communication. We investigated electroencephalographic (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in separate recording sessions during contradictory judgments, using a logical structure based on categorical propositions of the Aristotelian Square of Opposition (ASoO). The use of ASoO propositions, while controlling for potential linguistic or semantic confounds, enabled us to observe the spatial temporal unfolding of this contradictory reasoning. The processing started with the inversion of the logical operators corresponding to right middle frontal gyrus (rMFG-BA11) activation, followed by identification of contradictory statement associated with in the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG-BA47) activation. Right medial frontal gyrus (rMeFG, BA10) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC, BA32) contributed to the later stages of process. We observed a correlation between the delayed latency of rBA11 response and the reaction time delay during inductive vs. deductive reasoning. This supports the notion that rBA11 is crucial for manipulating the logical operators. Slower processing time and stronger brain responses for inductive logic suggested that examples are easier to process than general principles and are more likely to simplify communication.
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.
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