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BCS Colloquium Series: Decision making and the frontal cortex

Speaker: Dr. Matthew Rushworth, University of Oxford, UK

Date: Thursday December 6, 2012
Time: 4:00 pm
Location: 46-3002

There has been considerable interest in how the brain makes decisions but most investigations of the neural mechanisms of decision making have entailed giving animals or people only a limited numbers of options to choose between. Typically all the options are presented at the same time. In the real world, however, choices can be made between several options and foraging animals??? choices are made in in the context of sequences of encounters with prey/food in a quite distinct scenario to the one that is typically studied in the laboratory. I will describe how decision making when there are multiple options differs in important ways from binary decision making. Representations of potential choices in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) interact in surprising ways even when there are three options. I also demonstrate that humans can alternate between two modes of choice, comparative decision-making and foraging, dependent on distinct neural mechanisms in vmPFC and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) employing distinct reference frames; in ACC choice variables are represented in invariant reference to foraging/searching for alternatives. The cost of foraging is also represented in ACC. While vmPFC encodes values of specific well-defined options, ACC encodes the average value of the foraging environment and cost of foraging.


Open to: the general public

For More Information Contact: Julianne Gale

Event Category: science/engineering

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