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Published November 13, 2007 | Published + Erratum + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Temporal isolation of neural processes underlying face preference decisions


Decisions about whether we like someone are often made so rapidly from first impressions that it is difficult to examine the engagement of neural structures at specific points in time. Here, we used a temporally extended decision-making paradigm to examine brain activation with functional MRI (fMRI) at sequential stages of the decision-making process. Activity in reward-related brain structures—the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)—was found to occur at temporally dissociable phases while subjects decided which of two unfamiliar faces they preferred. Increases in activation in the OFC occurred late in the trial, consistent with a role for this area in computing the decision of which face to choose. Signal increases in the NAC occurred early in the trial, consistent with a role for this area in initial preference formation. Moreover, early signal increases in the NAC also occurred while subjects performed a control task (judging face roundness) when these data were analyzed on the basis of which of those faces were subsequently chosen as preferred in a later task. The findings support a model in which rapid, automatic engagement of the NAC conveys a preference signal to the OFC, which in turn is used to guide choice.

Additional Information

© 2007 by the National Academy of Sciences. Edited by Dale Purves, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, and approved September 25, 2007 (received for review April 4, 2007). Published online on November 7, 2007, 10.1073/pnas.0703101104. We thank Chinatsu Tosha, Michael Chang, Axel Lindner, Claudiu Simion, Harald Stoegbauer, Simone Wehling, and David Rudrauf for technical assistance. This work was supported by the Gimbel Discovery Fund for neuroscience (H.K. and J.P.O.), Japan Science and Technology Agency Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology Office (H.K. and S.S.), grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (to R.A.), and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (R.A. and J.P.O.). Author contributions: H.K., R.A., J.P.O., and S.S. designed research; H.K. performed research; H.K. and J.P.O. analyzed data; and H.K., R.A., J.P.O., and S.S. wrote the paper. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. This article contains supporting information online at www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/0703101104/DC1.

Attached Files

Published - KIMpnas07.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig10.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig11.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig12.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig13.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig14.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig4.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig5.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig6.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig7.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig8.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07suppfig9.pdf

Supplemental Material - KIMpnas07supptable1.pdf

Erratum - KIMpnas07corr.pdf


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August 22, 2023
March 5, 2024