The choice is ours

April 2, 2008

The option to choose among several courses of action is often associated with the feeling of being in control. Yet, in certain situations, one may prefer to decline such agency and instead leave the choice to someone else – out of politeness, or when too tired to choose, or when the consequences of the choice options appear complex or are unknown.

In a collaborative effort between the University of Amsterdam and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Birte Forstmann and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine what happens in the brain when people are presented with the option either to determine their own course of action or to let someone else make the decision.

In a study published in this week’s PLoS ONE, the researchers found that two areas in the medial frontal cortex contribute specifically to these decision-making processes. A posterior region, the so-called rostral cingulate zone (RCZ), is engaged when conditions present most choice options. An anterior region, the so called Brodmann area 10, is engaged when the choice is completely ours, as well as when it is completely up to others to choose for us. Ultimately, they demonstrated that who is doing the deciding matters just as much as whether we have any options from which to choose.

Citation: Forstmann BU, Wolfensteller U, Derrfuss J, Neumann J, Brass M, et al. (2008) When the Choice Is Ours: Context and Agency Modulate the Neural Bases of Decision-Making. PLoS ONE 3(4): e1899. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001899

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Restaurant placemats can help promote healthy eating among children

Related Stories

Restaurant placemats can help promote healthy eating among children

July 18, 2017
Placemats can be used to encourage children to eat healthier food in restaurants, according to a new study by the University at Buffalo and Independent Health Foundation.

Researcher discusses the future of the electric utility

July 17, 2017
Francis O'Sullivan, director of research for the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), recently led discussions about the future of the electric grid and clean energy technologies with leaders in industry, government, and academia ...

Resisting the seduction of a buffet

July 19, 2017
(HealthDay)—Whether at a party or a restaurant, don't let a buffet be your diet downfall. With certain strategies, you can enjoy a range of choices without going overboard and without experiencing any of the usual guilt.

Adults with autism make more consistent choices

June 27, 2017
People with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) often show a reduced sensitivity to contextual information in perceptual tasks, but new research suggests that this reduced sensitivity may actually lead to more consistent choices ...

Most breast cancer patients have help choosing treatments

July 10, 2017
(HealthDay)—Most women who've been diagnosed with breast cancer don't go it alone.

Study shows psychopathic brains are wired in a way that can lead to dangerous and violent actions

July 5, 2017
Josh Buckholtz wants to change the way you think about psychopaths - and he's willing to go to prison to do it.

Recommended for you

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation via cannabinoids

July 18, 2017
Chemical compounds called cannabinoids are found in marijuana and also are produced naturally in the body from omega-3 fatty acids. A well-known cannabinoid in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for some of its ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.