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Brain Struct Funct. 2009 Oct;213(6):535-51. doi: 10.1007/s00429-009-0222-8. Epub 2009 Sep 16.

Structure-function relationships in the processing of regret in the orbitofrontal cortex.

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  • 1Department of Systems Neuroscience, NeuroImage Nord, University of Hamburg Medical School, Bldg S10, Hamburg, Germany.


The influence of counterfactual thinking and regret on choice behavior has been widely acknowledged in economic science (Bell in Oper Res 30:961-981, 1982; Kahneman and Tversky in Judgment under uncertainty: heuristics and biases. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 201-210, 1982; Loomes and Sugden in Econ J 92:805-824, 1982). Neuroimaging studies have only recently begun to explore the neural correlates of this psychological factor and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) activity was observed in several of them depending of the exact characteristics of the employed paradigm. This selective OFC involvement and, moreover, a consistently found dissociation of medial and lateral OFC activity clusters allow inferences to the function of this structure in counterfactual thinking and regret. Vice versa, the differential contribution of OFC subregions to these processes also adds evidence to the current debate on the function of this cortical structure in decision-making that attracted increasing attention in recent years.

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