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AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 4, 2018

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Scientists Locate Brain Area Where Value Decisions Are Made

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Neurobiologists at the University of California San Diego have pinpointed the brain area responsible for value decisions that are made based on past experiences.

Senior author Takaki Komiyama says data from tens of thousands of neurons revealed an area of the brain called the retrosplenial cortex, or RSC, which was not previously known for “value-based decision-making,” a fundamental animal behavior that is impaired in neurological conditions ranging from schizophrenia to dementia and addiction.

Such decision-making is not the kind we encounter, for example, when navigating traffic lights, which are external cues that dictate our car-driving decisions. Rather, Komiyama, lead author Ryoma Hattori and their colleagues found that the RSC is the home region for decisions such as where we buy our morning coffee. When we visit a coffee shop, our subjective value of the shop is updated based on our experience in the RSC where the value is maintained until the next time we go out for coffee.

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