Daniel Kimmel (Stanford Neurosciences Program): Neural correlates of value-based decisions in the monkey

Daniel Kimmel
Jordan Hall (Building 420), Room 050

For many decisions, we must explicitly compare the value of two or more goods being offered. However, often decisions are not between multiple goods, but rather between a single offer and the choice to pass on that offer, such as when deciding to buy a new car, marry a significant other, or come to this talk! For these decisions the relevant comparison is between the expected benefit of the offer and its associated cost. We studied these cost-benefit decisions in the macaque monkey while recording from single neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which has been implicated previously in decisions between two competing goods. We found that the animal was sensitive to the balance of cost and benefit. That is, his willingness to accept an offer increased monotonically as we increased the benefit. On average, we found that neurons in the OFC encoded these valuations in a similarly graded manner, with the neural response to the offer increasing parametrically with increasing benefit. An open question is the exact role of these neurons in cost-benefit decisions. For example, do neurons encode only the expected benefit of an option, or also the cost involved in obtaining it? Are these responses merely correlated with value, or do they play a causal role in guiding value-based choice?

Public Access: 
Not open to the public

Date and Time

Friday, 11 February 2011 - 3:15pm