Level of confidence on the selected choice is related to a front region of the brain

Ventromedial prefrontal cortex highlighted in the medial and ventral views of the brainResearchers have found areas of the brain that are involved in making the decisions for the right choices and reveal our confidence in those choices.

This research has been recently published online in the Nature Neuroscience.

In this study, researchers used the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine the activity in the brains of the twenty participants, who were hungry. The participants were allowed to make choices among the food items that they would eat later. They were asked for how much they would pay for the food items. This was done to check the subjective value of the food options. After making the choice, they were asked about the level of confidence of their choice of food item.

Researchers found that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a region in front of the brain, is not only involved in the value of the decision options but the level of activity in this area is also linked to the level of confidence of the participants on the best option they made. Moreover, the interaction between this area and a neighboring area; rostrolateral prefrontal cortex, is important to show the participants’ ability to reach and present the level of confidence on their decisions.

Researchers wrote, “As predicted by our dynamic model, we show that a functional magnetic resonance imaging signal in human ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) reflects both value comparison and confidence in the value comparison process. Crucially, individuals varied in how they related confidence to accuracy, allowing us to show that this introspective ability is predicted by a measure of functional connectivity between vmPFC and rostrolateral prefrontal cortex.”

“We found that people’s confidence varied from decision to decision. While we knew where to look for signals of value computation, it was very interesting to also observe neural signals of confidence in the same brain region.” Dr Steve Fleming, a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow (now based at New York University), said in a statement.

“Overall, we think our results provide an initial account both of how people make choices, and also their insight into the decision process.” Dr Benedetto De Martino, a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow at UCL, said.

Reference:

De Martino, B., Fleming, S., Garrett, N., & Dolan, R. (2012). Confidence in value-based choice Nature Neuroscience DOI: 10.1038/nn.3279