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Psychol Sci. 2007 Nov;18(11):958-64.

Neural correlates of adaptive decision making for risky gains and losses.

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Decision Research, Eugene, Oregon 97401, USA.


Do decisions about potential gains and potential losses require different neural structures for advantageous choices? In a lesion study, we used a new measure of adaptive decision making under risk to examine whether damage to neural structures subserving emotion affects an individual's ability to make adaptive decisions differentially for gains and losses. We found that individuals with lesions to the amygdala, an area responsible for processing emotional responses, displayed impaired decision making when considering potential gains, but not when considering potential losses. In contrast, patients with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, an area responsible for integrating cognitive and emotional information, showed deficits in both domains. We argue that this dissociation provides evidence that adaptive decision making for risks involving potential losses may be more difficult to disrupt than adaptive decision making for risks involving potential gains. This research further demonstrates the role of emotion in decision competence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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