The role of human orbitofrontal cortex in value comparison for incommensurable objects.
FitzGerald THB., Seymour B., Dolan RJ.
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.