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The human orbitofrontal cortex is strongly implicated in appetitive valuation. Whether its role extends to support comparative valuation necessary to explain probabilistic choice patterns for incommensurable goods is unknown. Using a binary choice paradigm, we derived the subjective values of different bundles of goods, under conditions of both gain and loss. We demonstrate that orbitofrontal activation reflects the difference in subjective value between available options, an effect evident across valuation for both gains and losses. In contrast, activation in dorsal striatum and supplementary motor areas reflects subjects' choice probabilities. These findings indicate that orbitofrontal cortex plays a pivotal role in valuation for incommensurable goods, a critical component process in human decision making.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Publication Date





8388 - 8395


Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom.


Frontal Lobe, Humans, Oxygen, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Brain Mapping, Analysis of Variance, Probability, Photic Stimulation, Cues, Reward, Decision Making, Task Performance and Analysis, Reaction Time, Time Factors, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Adult, Female, Male, Young Adult