Distinct encoding of risk and value in economic choice between multiple risky options.
Wright ND., Symmonds M., Dolan RJ.
Neural encoding of value-based stimuli is suggested to involve representations of summary statistics, including risk and expected value (EV). A more complex, but ecologically more common, context is when multiple risky options are evaluated together. However, it is unknown whether encoding related to option evaluation in these situations involves similar principles. Here we employed fMRI during a task that parametrically manipulated EV and risk in two simultaneously presented lotteries, both of which contained either gains or losses. We found representations of EV in medial prefrontal cortex and anterior insula, an encoding that was dependent on which option was chosen (i.e. chosen and unchosen EV) and whether the choice was over gains or losses. Parietal activity reflected whether the riskier or surer option was selected, whilst activity in a network of regions that also included parietal cortex reflected both combined risk and difference in risk for the two options. Our findings provide support for the idea that summary statistics underpin a representation of value-based stimuli, and further that these summary statistics undergo distinct forms of encoding.