Send to

Choose Destination
Neuroimage. 2010 Apr 1;50(2):709-16. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.12.097. Epub 2010 Jan 4.

The impact of prior risk experiences on subsequent risky decision-making: the role of the insula.

Author information

Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061, USA.


Risky decision-making is significantly affected by homeostatic states associated with different prior risk experiences, yet the neural mechanisms have not been well understood. Using functional MRI, we examined how gambling decisions and their underlying neural responses were modulated by prior risk experiences, with a focus on the insular cortex since it has been implicated in interoception, emotion and risky decision-making. Fourteen healthy young participants were scanned while performing a gambling task that was designed to simulate daily-life risk taking. Prior risk experience was manipulated by presenting participants with gambles that they were very likely to accept or gambles that they were unlikely to accept. A probe gamble, which was sensitive to individual's risk preference, was presented to examine the effect of prior risk experiences (Risk vs. Norisk) on subsequent risky decisions. Compared to passing on a gamble (Norisk), taking a gamble, especially winning a gamble (Riskwin), was associated with significantly stronger activation in the insular and dorsal medial prefrontal cortices. Decision making after Norisk was more risky and more likely to recruit activation of the insular and anterior cingulate cortices. This insular activity during decision making predicted the extent of risky decisions both within- and across-subjects, and was also correlated with an individual's personality trait of urgency. These findings suggest that the insula plays an important role in activating representations of homeostatic states associated with the experience of risk, which in turn exerts an influence on subsequent decisions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center