Nav: Home

Brain study shows there's more than meets the eye when making choices

December 14, 2015

MONTREAL---If you're pondering whether to buy a Galaxy smartphone or an iPhone this holiday season, a part of the brain called the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (PFC) might ultimately determine your choice. Results of a new study by Avinash Vaidya and Dr. Lesley Fellows, researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), suggest that this region of the brain plays a critical role in making choices.

"A big question is how and where value information is represented in the brain, and what goes into that representation," says Dr. Fellows, a neurologist and researcher in the burgeoning field of decision neuroscience. "Our research confirmed what savvy marketers already know: the longer you look at one of two objects, the more likely you'll choose that object even if you initially valued the other one more. But we went further and identified a region of the frontal lobe that is crucially involved in this phenomenon."

The study involved 60 participants, half of whom had suffered localized injury to the frontal lobes due to a stroke or tumour.

Participants viewed hundreds of different pieces of art and rated their desire for each of them. This provided an estimate of the subjective value that each piece held. In a later test, the participants chose between pairs of these artworks. Participants were inclined to select the artwork that they examined longer even if in the earlier test they gave a higher value rating to the other object. Participants behaved as though the value of an option increased the longer it was observed.

Participants with damage to a particular sector of the frontal lobe, the dorsomedial PFC, showed an exaggerated tendency to be drawn to the object at hand. The study shows that the dorsomedial PFC plays a critical role in mediating the balance between prior value assessment and an object's immediate appeal.

The significance of the dorsomedial PFC came as a surprise because of its relative neglect in the decision neuroscience literature.

"Much work on value-based decision-making has focussed rather on the ventral-frontal and orbitofrontal cortex," says Dr. Fellows. "Our findings suggest that, in the healthy brain, the dorsomedial PFC is also important in decision-making, helping to recall the value of objects that are not directly in view so that you can keep your options open."

This research adds to studies showing that by manipulating the length of time that a viewer observes a product, the viewer's value assessment can change without the viewer necessarily being aware of this effect.

"We're trying to decompose the different aspects of decision-making. People have this idea that their preferences and value judgments are consistent and rational but, in fact, we're heavily influenced by factors that are not apparent to us."
-end-
The research was published on December 14 in the scientific journal, Nature Communications.

Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital

The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital - The Neuro is a world-leading destination for brain research and advanced patient care. Since its founding in 1934 by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro has grown to be the largest specialized neuroscience research and clinical centre in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. The seamless integration of research, patient care, and training of the world's top minds make The Neuro uniquely positioned to have a significant impact on the understanding and treatment of nervous system disorders. The Montreal Neurological Institute is a McGill University research and teaching institute. The Montreal Neurological Hospital is part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. For more information, please visit http://www.theneuro.ca

McGill University Health Centre

Related Brain Articles:

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.
Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.
Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.
Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.
BRAIN Initiative tool may transform how scientists study brain structure and function
Researchers have developed a high-tech support system that can keep a large mammalian brain from rapidly decomposing in the hours after death, enabling study of certain molecular and cellular functions.
Wiring diagram of the brain provides a clearer picture of brain scan data
In a study published today in the journal BRAIN, neuroscientists led by Michael D.
Blue Brain Project releases first-ever digital 3D brain cell atlas
The Blue Brain Cell Atlas is like ''going from hand-drawn maps to Google Earth'' -- providing previously unavailable information on major cell types, numbers and positions in all 737 brain regions.
Landmark study reveals no benefit to costly and risky brain cooling after brain injury
A landmark study, led by Monash University researchers, has definitively found that the practice of cooling the body and brain in patients who have recently received a severe traumatic brain injury, has no impact on the patient's long-term outcome.
Brain cells called astrocytes have unexpected role in brain 'plasticity'
Researchers from the Salk Institute have shown that astrocytes -- long-overlooked supportive cells in the brain -- help to enable the brain's plasticity, a new role for astrocytes that was not previously known.
Largest brain study of 62,454 scans identifies drivers of brain aging
In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists from Amen Clinics (Costa Mesa, CA), Google, John's Hopkins University, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Francisco evaluated 62,454 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 individuals from 9 months old to 105 years of age to investigate factors that accelerate brain aging.
More Brain News and Brain Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.