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Evidence accumulation, not "self-control," explains why the dlPFC activates during normative choice

Hutcherson, Cendri A. and Rangel, Antonio and Tusche, Anita (2020) Evidence accumulation, not "self-control," explains why the dlPFC activates during normative choice. . (Unpublished)

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What role do cognitive control regions like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) play in normative behavior (e.g., generosity, healthy eating)? Some models suggest that dlPFC activation during normative choice reflects the use of control to overcome default hedonistic preferences. Here, we develop an alternative account, showing that an attribute-based neural drift diffusion model (anDDM) predicts trial-by-trial variation in dlPFC response across three fMRI studies and two self-control contexts (altruistic sacrifice and healthy eating). Using the anDDM to simulate a variety of self-control dilemmas generated a novel prediction: although dlPFC activity might typically increase for norm-consistent choices, deliberate self-regulation focused on normative goals should decrease or even reverse this pattern (i.e., greater dlPFC response for hedonic, self-interested choices). We confirmed these predictions in both altruistic and dietary choice contexts. Our results suggest that dlPFC's response during normative choice may depend more on value-based evidence accumulation than inhibition of our baser instincts.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Hutcherson, Cendri A.0000-0002-4441-4809
Tusche, Anita0000-0003-4180-8447
Additional Information:The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. Posted October 08, 2020. These studies were made possibly by grants from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (A.R.), the Lipper Foundation (A.R.), and a National Institute of Mental Health Silvio O. Conte award (NIMH Conte Center 2P50 MH094258). AR also gratefully acknowledges the research support of the NOMIS Foundation. The scientific results and conclusions reflect the authors’ opinions and not the views of the granting entities. Author Contributions: All authors contributed to the design of the studies. C.H. and A.T. collected the data, and C.H. analyzed the data and developed the computational model. C.H., A.T., and A.R. wrote the paper. Data Availability: Behavioral data and all analysis code are available on the Open Science Framework at [link released after acceptance for publication]. Neuroimaging data are available upon request to the authors.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Lipper Family FoundationUNSPECIFIED
NIH2P50 MH094258
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201012-124210949
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Evidence accumulation, not “self-control,” explains why the dlPFC activates during normative choice. Cendri A. Hutcherson, Antonio Rangel, Anita Tusche. bioRxiv 2020.10.06.328476; doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105983
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Oct 2020 20:07
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:48

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