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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Decision neuroscience: neuroeconomics

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Abstract Few aspects of human cognition are more personal than the choices we make. Our decisions—from the mundane to the impossibly complex—continually shape the courses of our lives. In recent years, researchers have applied the tools of neuroscience to understand the mechanisms that underlie decision making, as part of the new discipline of decision neuroscience. A primary goal of this emerging field has been to identify the processes that underlie specific decision variables, including the value of rewards, the uncertainty associated with particular outcomes, and the consequences of social interactions. Recent work suggests potential neural substrates that integrate these variables, potentially reflecting a common neural currency for value, to facilitate value comparisons. Despite the successes of decision neuroscience research for elucidating brain mechanisms, significant challenges remain. These include building new conceptual frameworks for decision making, integrating research findings across disparate techniques and species, and extending results from neuroscience to shape economic theory. To overcome these challenges, future research will likely focus on interpersonal variability in decision making, with the eventual goal of creating biologically plausible models for individual choice. WIREs Cogn Sci 2010 1 854–871 This article is categorized under: Psychology > Reasoning and Decision Making Neuroscience > Cognition

Brain regions supporting reward processing and value computation. Reward experience and evaluation evoke activation in several interconnected brain regions within the brain's dopaminergic system. Key regions include the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the ventral striatum (vSTR), and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC).

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Brain regions supporting decision uncertainty. Several brain regions respond to uncertainty, or situations lacking desired information about the timing, content, value, or certainty of rewards. These include the insular cortex (Ins), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), and posterior parietal cortex (PPC).

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