Decision making region remains active even during distraction or unconsciousness

Decision making

Researchers have utilized the brain imaging techniques and found that the brain region responsible for the decision making remains active even when the conscious brain is distracted.

This research is published online in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

In creativity techniques, it is usually suggested that a break or a little sleep would help to reach the better solutions. Now researchers have showed that the brain unconsciously do the decision making   processes leading to the improved decision-making.

Unconscious Activity in 2 Parts of the Brain, the left visual cortex and right prefrontal cortex (Credit: Carnegie Mellon University)

“This research begins to chip away at the mystery of our unconscious brains and decision-making,” J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology in CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory, said in a statement. “It shows that brain regions important for decision-making remain active even while our brains may be simultaneously engaged in unrelated tasks, such as thinking about a math problem. What’s most intriguing about this finding is that participants did not have any awareness that their brains were still working on the decision problem while they were engaged in an unrelated task.”

Researchers gave the participants a decision related task such as selection of cars or other items and then gave them a distractor task such as memorizing sequences of numbers while undergoing neuroimaging.

Researchers found that the distraction increased the decision making ability of the participants due to the constant working of decision making region of the brain even during distraction. They found the activity in the visual and prefrontal cortices of the brain during the initial processes of learning information about the cars and other items and the same regions remained active – or reactivated – during the process of distraction. Moreover, the more the reactivation in those regions of the brain during the tasks of reactivation, the better the decision came.

“We all face difficult problems we need to solve on a regular basis,” Creswell said. “Whether it’s buying a new car, finding a new apartment to rent, or seeking out a new dating partner on social networking sites. This study provides some of the first clues for how our brains process this information for effective problem-solving and decision-making.”

Further Reading:

Creswell, J., Bursley, J., & Satpute, A. (2013). Neural Reactivation Links Unconscious Thought to Decision Making Performance Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience DOI: 10.1093/scan/nst004

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