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A Behavioral and Neural Evaluation of Prospective Decision-Making under Risk

Symmonds, Mkael and Bossaerts, Peter and Dolan, Raymond J. (2010) A Behavioral and Neural Evaluation of Prospective Decision-Making under Risk. Journal of Neuroscience, 30 (43). pp. 14380-14389. ISSN 0270-6474. PMCID PMC3044871.

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Making the best choice when faced with a chain of decisions requires a person to judge both anticipated outcomes and future actions. Although economic decision-making models account for both risk and reward in single-choice contexts, there is a dearth of similar knowledge about sequential choice. Classical utility-based models assume that decision-makers select and follow an optimal predetermined strategy, regardless of the particular order in which options are presented. An alternative model involves continuously reevaluating decision utilities, without prescribing a specific future set of choices. Here, using behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, we studied human subjects in a sequential choice task and use these data to compare alternative decision models of valuation and strategy selection. We provide evidence that subjects adopt a model of reevaluating decision utilities, in which available strategies are continuously updated and combined in assessing action values. We validate this model by using simultaneously acquired fMRI data to show that sequential choice evokes a pattern of neural response consistent with a tracking of anticipated distribution of future reward, as expected in such a model. Thus, brain activity evoked at each decision point reflects the expected mean, variance, and skewness of possible payoffs, consistent with the idea that sequential choice evokes a prospective evaluation of both available strategies and possible outcomes.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Bossaerts, Peter0000-0003-2308-2603
Additional Information:© 2010 the Authors. Received March 22, 2010; revised July 9, 2010; accepted July 13, 2010. This work is supported by a Wellcome Trust Programme Grant (R.J.D.) and by the Swiss Finance Institute. We thank Nicholas Wright, Rosalyn Moran, Dominic Bach, Deborah Talmi, and Steven Fleming for many helpful discussions and Nikolaus Weiskopf for imaging advice.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Swiss Finance InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:43
PubMed Central ID:PMC3044871
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20101206-100015344
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Official Citation:Symmonds, M., P. Bossaerts, et al. (2010). "A Behavioral and Neural Evaluation of Prospective Decision-Making under Risk." J. Neurosci. 30(43): 14380-14389.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:21172
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:13 Dec 2010 19:17
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 02:20

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