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Cognitive regulation alters social and dietary choice by changing attribute representations in domain-general and domain-specific brain circuits

Tusche, Anita and Hutcherson, Cendri A. (2018) Cognitive regulation alters social and dietary choice by changing attribute representations in domain-general and domain-specific brain circuits. eLife, 7 . Art. No. e31185. ISSN 2050-084X. PMCID PMC5973829. doi:10.7554/eLife.31185.001.

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Are some people generally more successful using cognitive regulation or does it depend on the choice domain? Why? We combined behavioral computational modeling and multivariate decoding of fMRI responses to identify neural loci of regulation-related shifts in value representations across goals and domains (dietary or altruistic choice). Surprisingly, regulatory goals did not alter integrative value representations in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which represented all choice-relevant attributes across goals and domains. Instead, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) flexibly encoded goal-consistent values and predicted regulatory success for the majority of choice-relevant attributes, using attribute-specific neural codes. We also identified domain-specific exceptions: goal-dependent encoding of prosocial attributes localized to precuneus and temporo-parietal junction (not DLPFC). Our results suggest that cognitive regulation operated by changing specific attribute representations (not integrated values). Evidence of domain-general and domain-specific neural loci reveals important divisions of labor, explaining when and why regulatory success generalizes (or doesn’t) across contexts and domains.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Tusche, Anita0000-0003-4180-8447
Hutcherson, Cendri A.0000-0002-4441-4809
Additional Information:© 2018 Tusche and Hutcherson. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited. Received: 11 August 2017; Accepted: 02 May 2018; Published: 29 May 2018. Data availability: Functional imaging and behavioral data is deposited at the project’s Open Science Framework (OSF) page ( The project page also makes available the derived statistical maps (univariate and multivariate decoding analyses), regions of interest (ROIs) used in analyses of functional imaging data, processed behavioural data, and details on the experimental procedure. This research was supported by funding from NIMH Conte Center 2P50 MH094258. We also thank Ralph Adolphs and Antonio Rangel for their support for the project. Author contributions: Anita Tusche, Cendri A Hutcherson, Conceptualization, Data curation, Software, Formal analysis, Validation, Investigation, Visualization, Methodology, Writing—original draft, Project administration, Writing—review and editing, designed the study, collected the data, performed data analysis, and wrote the manuscript. Ethics: Human subjects: All subjects gave written informed consent, and consent to publish, and the Internal Review Board of the California Institute of Technology approved the study (AR-346).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIH2P50 MH094258
PubMed Central ID:PMC5973829
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180604-074046482
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Official Citation:Tusche and Hutcherson. eLife 2018;7:e31185. DOI:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:86770
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:04 Jun 2018 18:25
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:42

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