The problem with value
Neural correlates of value have been extensively reported in a diverse set of brain regions. However, in many cases it is difficult to determine whether a particular neural response pattern corresponds to a value-signal per se as opposed to an array of alternative non-value related processes, such as outcome-identity coding, informational coding, encoding of autonomic and skeletomotor consequences, alongside previously described "salience" or "attentional" effects. Here, I review a number of experimental manipulations that can be used to test for value, and I identify the challenges in ascertaining whether a particular neural response is or is not a value signal. Finally, I emphasize that some non-value related signals may be especially informative as a means of providing insight into the nature of the decision-making related computations that are being implemented in a particular brain region.
Additional Information© 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Received 29 October 2013; Received in revised form 19 February 2014; Accepted 31 March 2014; Available online 13 April 2014. I would like to thank Wolfgang Pauli for helpful comments on the manuscript, and Antonio Rangel for helpful discussions. The preparation of this manuscript was supported by grants to JOD from NIDA, (DA033077-01 supported by Oppnet), and the NIMH Conte Center for the neurobiology of Social Decision Making.
Accepted Version - nihms662754.pdf