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J Neurosci. 2010 Aug 11;30(32):10799-808. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0788-10.2010.

Appetitive and aversive goal values are encoded in the medial orbitofrontal cortex at the time of decision making.

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  • 1Institut EuropĂ©en d'Administration des Affaires, 77305 Fontainebleau, France.


An essential feature of choice is the assignment of goal values (GVs) to the different options under consideration at the time of decision making. This computation is done when choosing among appetitive and aversive items. Several groups have studied the location of GV computations for appetitive stimuli, but the problem of valuation in aversive contexts at the time of decision making has been ignored. Thus, although dissociations between appetitive and aversive components of value signals have been shown in other domains such as anticipatory and outcome values, it is not known whether appetitive and aversive GVs are computed in similar brain regions or in separate ones. We investigated this question using two different functional magnetic resonance imaging studies while human subjects placed real bids in an economic auction for the right to eat/avoid eating liked/disliked foods. We found that activity in a common area of the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex correlated with both appetitive and aversive GVs. These findings suggest that these regions might form part of a common network.

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