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Economic choices can be made using only stimulus values.

Authors
  • Wunderlich, Klaus
  • Rangel, Antonio
  • O'Doherty, John P
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publisher
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Aug 24, 2010
Volume
107
Issue
34
Pages
15005–15010
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1002258107
PMID: 20696924
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Decision-making often involves choices between different stimuli, each of which is associated with a different physical action. A growing consensus suggests that the brain makes such decisions by assigning a value to each available option and then comparing them to make a choice. An open question in decision neuroscience is whether the brain computes these choices by comparing the values of stimuli directly in goods space or instead by first assigning values to the associated actions and then making a choice over actions. We used a functional MRI paradigm in which human subjects made choices between different stimuli with and without knowledge of the actions required to obtain the different stimuli. We found neural correlates of the value of the chosen stimulus (a postdecision signal) in ventromedial prefrontal cortex before the actual stimulus-action pairing was revealed. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that the brain is capable of making choices in the space of goods without first transferring values into action space.

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