Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Dialogues Clin Neurosci, Volume 18, Issue 1, p.55-63 (2016)
Decision making has been extensively studied in the context of economics and from a group perspective, but still little is known on individual decision making. Here we discuss the different cognitive processes involved in decision making and its associated neural substrates. The putative conductors in decision making appear to be the prefrontal cortex and the striatum. Impaired decision-making skills in various clinical populations have been associated with activity in the prefrontal cortex and in the striatum. We highlight the importance of strengthening the degree of integration of both cognitive and neural substrates in order to further our understanding of decision-making skills. In terms of cognitive paradigms, there is a need to improve the ecological value of experimental tasks that assess decision making in various contexts and with rewards; this would help translate laboratory learnings into real-life benefits. In terms of neural substrates, the use of neuroimaging techniques helps characterize the neural networks associated with decision making; more recently, ways to modulate brain activity, such as in the prefrontal cortex and connected regions (eg, striatum), with noninvasive brain stimulation have also shed light on the neural and cognitive substrates of decision making. Together, these cognitive and neural approaches might be useful for patients with impaired decision-making skills. The drive behind this line of work is that decision-making abilities underlie important aspects of wellness, health, security, and financial and social choices in our daily lives.