The choice is ours

Apr 02, 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: Secret of tetanus toxicity offers new way to treat motor neuron disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nations "failing to save earth's wildlife"

Nov 11, 2014

The world can dramatically improve the rate at which it rescues imperilled species if it starts choosing the land set aside as protected areas more wisely, international scientists say.

Deceptive behavior may (deceivingly) promote cooperation

Nov 07, 2014

(Phys.org) —Tricking someone into trusting you in order to gain something from them is common behavior in both the animal and human worlds. From cuckoo birds that trick other bird species into raising their ...

From strangers to mates in 15 minutes

Nov 06, 2014

Ah, to be a fruit fly. No meddling matchmakers, creepy dates or frog kissing. Females process the sights, smell, sounds and touch of love to choose Mr. Right in 15 minutes. Researchers at Case Western Reserve ...

Recommended for you

Stroke damage mechanism identified

6 hours ago

Researchers have discovered a mechanism linked to the brain damage often suffered by stroke victims—and are now searching for drugs to block it.

User comments : 0

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.