Neural correlates of affective influence on choice.

School of Psychology, Bangor University, LL57 2AS, UK.
Brain and Cognition (Impact Factor: 2.82). 10/2009; 72(2):282-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2009.09.012
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Making the right choice depends crucially on the accurate valuation of the available options in the light of current needs and goals of an individual. Thus, the valuation of identical options can vary considerably with motivational context. The present study investigated the neural structures underlying context dependent evaluation. We instructed participants to choose from food menu items based on different criteria: on their anticipated taste or on ease of preparation. The aim of the manipulation was to assess which neural sites were activated during choice guided by incentive value, and which during choice based on a value-irrelevant criterion. To assess the impact of increased motivation, affect-guided choice and cognition-guided choice was compared during the sated and hungry states. During affective choice, we identified increased activity in structures representing primarily valuation and taste (medial prefrontal cortex, insula). During cognitive choice, structures showing increased activity included those implicated in suppression and conflict monitoring (lateral orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate). Hunger influenced choice-related activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. Our results show that choice is associated with the use of distinct neural structures for the pursuit of different goals.

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