Abstract All known human societies have maintained social order by enforcing compliance with social norms. The biological mechanisms underlying norm compliance are, however, hardly understood. We show that the right lateral prefrontal cortex (rLPFC) is involved in both voluntary and sanction-induced norm compliance. Both types of compliance could be changed by varying the neural excitability of this brain region with transcranial direct current stimulation, but they were affected in opposite ways, suggesting that the stimulated region plays a fundamentally different role in voluntary and sanction-based compliance. Brain stimulation had a particularly strong effect on compliance in the context of socially constituted sanctions, whereas it left beliefs about what the norm prescribes and about subjectively expected sanctions unaffected. Our findings suggest that rLPFC activity is a key biological prerequisite for an evolutionarily and socially important aspect of human behavior.
所有已知的人类社会通过强制社会规范的遵从性来维持社会秩序。然而我们对作为规范遵从性基础的生物学机制的含义仍所知甚少。我们发现右外侧前额叶皮层（ rLPFC ）和自愿性质以及制裁引导性质的规范依从性均有关联。通过经颅直流电刺激改变这一大脑区域的神经兴奋性可以改变这两种类型的规范依从性，但他们均以相反的方式作出反应，这表明受刺激的区域在自愿和制裁为基础的依从性上起着根本不同的作用。脑刺激对社会构成的制裁背景下的依从性表现出一种特别强烈的反应，然而它遗漏了有关规范规定了些什么以及有关主观上预期的制裁不受影响的信任。我们的研究结果表明右外侧前额叶皮层（rLPFC）的活跃性是人类行为在进化方面和社会重要性方面关键的生物学上的先决条件。