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Evidence accumulation, not ‘self-control’, explains dorsolateral prefrontal activation during normative choice

Hutcherson, Cendri A. and Tusche, Anita (2022) Evidence accumulation, not ‘self-control’, explains dorsolateral prefrontal activation during normative choice. eLife, 11 . Art. No. 65661. ISSN 2050-084X. PMCID PMC9457682. doi:10.7554/elife.65661.

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What role do 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 controlled inhibition or modulation of default hedonistic preferences. Here, we develop an alternative account, showing that evidence accumulation models predict trial-by-trial variation in dlPFC response across three fMRI paradigms and two self-control contexts (altruistic sacrifice and healthy eating). Using these models 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 hedonistic, self-interested choices). We confirmed these predictions in both altruistic and dietary choice contexts. Our results suggest that dlPFC response during normative choice may depend more on value-based evidence accumulation than inhibition of our baser instincts.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Hutcherson, Cendri A.0000-0002-4441-4809
Tusche, Anita0000-0003-4180-8447
Additional Information:These studies were made possibly by grants from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Lipper Foundation, the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture on Behavioral Health Economics Research on Dietary Choice and Obesity, an Agence Nationale de la Recherche Sorbonne Universite´s Emergence Grant, and a National Institute of Mental Health Silvio O Conte award (NIMH Conte Center 2P50 MH094258). The scientific results and conclusions reflect the authors’ opinions and not the views of the granting entities. We gratefully acknowledge Antonio Rangel and Todd Hare for comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Lipper FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Department of AgricultureUNSPECIFIED
Agence Nationale de la Recherche Sorbonne UniversitéUNSPECIFIED
NIH2P50 MH094258
PubMed Central ID:PMC9457682
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220916-661192000
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:116967
Deposited By: Olivia Warschaw
Deposited On:28 Oct 2022 22:35
Last Modified:01 Nov 2022 17:16

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