Choice: Towards a standard back-pocket model

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


What emerges from a review of the available human and animal data on decision-making is evidence of a two-stage model for choice. The first (or valuation) stage learns and represents the values of both actions and goods. Within this stage, at least ganglia and frontal cortex contribute to the construction of what we refer to as subjective value. These areas are hypothesized to learn subjective values, at a biophysical level, through the well-studied process of synaptic plasticity. These learning processes operate both during choice and during the passive receipt of rewards, effecting a disassociation between choice and valuation. The available evidence seems to suggest that existing multiple-self models are largely unsupported by the bulk of our existing data. Of course, emotions do influence decision-making and choosers do show varying levels of self-control; that is beyond doubt. The amygdala projects strongly to the ventral striatum and there is physiological as well as anatomical evidence that activity in the amygdala strongly influences activity in the ventral striatum. That does argue that the amygdala, and perhaps the emotions that it encodes, can influence valuation-related activity in this area, but it does not make a compelling case for a Freudian multiple-self model of neural decision- making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeuroeconomics
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780123741769
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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