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Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2017 Apr;14:33-39. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2016.11.015.

Stress and Decision Making: Effects on Valuation, Learning, and Risk-taking.

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Department of Psychology, Marquette University, PO, BOX 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201.
Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, 101 Warren Street, Smith Hall -Room 340, Newark, NJ 07102.


A wide range of stressful experiences can influence human decision making in complex ways beyond the simple predictions of a fight-or-flight model. Recent advances may provide insight into this complicated interaction, potentially in directions that could result in translational applications. Early research suggests that stress exposure influences basic neural circuits involved in reward processing and learning, while also biasing decisions towards habit and modulating our propensity to engage in risk-taking. That said, a substantial array of theoretical and methodological considerations in research on the topic challenge strong cross study comparisons necessary for the field to move forward. In this review we examine the multifaceted stress construct in the context of human decision making, emphasizing stress' effect on valuation, learning, and risk-taking.

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