[Show abstract][Hide abstract] 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.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2009 · Brain and Cognition
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: How much we desire a meal depends on both the constituent foods and how hungry we are, though not every meal becomes more desirable with increasing hunger. The brain therefore needs to be able to integrate hunger and meal properties to compute the correct incentive value of a meal. The present study investigated the functional role of the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex in mediating hunger and dish attractiveness. Furthermore, it explored neural responses to dish descriptions particularly susceptible to value-increase following fasting. We instructed participants to rate how much they wanted food menu items while they were either hungry or sated, and compared the rating differences in these states. Our results point to the representation of food value in the amygdala, and to an integration of attractiveness with hunger level in the orbitofrontal cortex. Dishes particularly desirable during hunger activated the thalamus and the insula. Our results specify the functions of evaluative structures in the context of food attractiveness, and point to a complex neural representation of dish qualities which contribute to state-dependent value.