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Studies of human decision making emerge from two dominant traditions: learning theorists [1-3] study choices in which options are evaluated on the basis of experience, whereas behavioral economists and financial decision theorists study choices in which the key decision variables are explicitly stated. Growing behavioral evidence suggests that valuation based on these different classes of information involves separable mechanisms [4-8], but the relevant neuronal substrates are unknown. This is important for understanding the all-too-common situation in which choices must be made between alternatives that involve one or another kind of information. We studied behavior and brain activity while subjects made decisions between risky financial options, in which the associated utilities were either learned or explicitly described. We show a characteristic effect in subjects' behavior when comparing information acquired from experience with that acquired from description, suggesting that these kinds of information are treated differently. This behavioral effect was reflected neurally, and we show differential sensitivity to learned and described value and risk in brain regions commonly associated with reward processing. Our data indicate that, during decision making under risk, both behavior and the neural encoding of key decision variables are strongly influenced by the manner in which value information is presented.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.cub.2010.08.048

Type

Journal article

Journal

Current biology : CB

Publication Date

10/2010

Volume

20

Pages

1823 - 1829

Addresses

Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, 12 Queen Square, London, UK. thomas.fitzgerald@iop.kcl.ac.uk

Keywords

Basal Ganglia, Prefrontal Cortex, Parietal Lobe, Neurons, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Brain Mapping, Logistic Models, Probability, Risk, Learning, Decision Making, Choice Behavior