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Nat Neurosci. 2013 Jan;16(1):105-10. doi: 10.1038/nn.3279. Epub 2012 Dec 9.

Confidence in value-based choice.

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  • 1Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, London, UK. b.martino@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Decisions are never perfect, with confidence in one's choices fluctuating over time. How subjective confidence and valuation of choice options interact at the level of brain and behavior is unknown. Using a dynamic model of the decision process, we show that confidence reflects the evolution of a decision variable over time, explaining the observed relation between confidence, value, accuracy and reaction time. As predicted by our dynamic model, we show that a functional magnetic resonance imaging signal in human ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) reflects both value comparison and confidence in the value comparison process. Crucially, individuals varied in how they related confidence to accuracy, allowing us to show that this introspective ability is predicted by a measure of functional connectivity between vmPFC and rostrolateral prefrontal cortex. Our findings provide a mechanistic link between noise in value comparison and metacognitive awareness of choice, enabling us both to want and to express knowledge of what we want.

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