Research Analysis How Brain Weighs Value

Steak or dessert? To make the decision, the brain assigns a value to every option. For example, at dinnertime, steak might be ranked more important because the fact that the body needs protein, so the brain’s valuation system will react more strongly to steak than to dessert. In any case, researchers have struggled with the question of how the brain coordinates encoding value (how good or bad something is) and saliency (how essential something is). On the off chance that steak is more important, at that point it is adding more notable. In any case, imagine a scenario where the decision was amongst steak and some highly aversive food. Steak would be more important, yet the two alternatives will be profoundly salient.

To recognize between value and saliency in the brain Yale’s Ifat Levy, associate professor of comparative medicine and neuroscience, former Yale neuroscience graduate student Zhihao Zhang, and colleagues conducted a functional MRI analyze. Subjects were given signals that predicted various rewards and punishments (money related gains and losses, electric shocks and pleasant pictures) at different intensities. The scientists could point to isolate brain regions that encode value and saliency. Surprisingly, said the researchers, using advanced analysis techniques, they likewise demonstrated that a same area of the brain, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex that evaluates value (this is good) additionally retains data about category identity (this is steak). This simultaneous encoding may enable the brain to rapidly update values when required. (For instance, at the end of a meal, dessert might be evaluated more significant than the second serving of steak).

Levy said, more study should be done to see how the brain combines these two types of data. The research was published on Dec. 4 in the journal Nature Communications. It was supported by grants from the YCCI and NIMH.


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