Richard GonzalezRichard Gonzalez

Center Director, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research
Director, BioSocial Methods Collaborative, RCGD
Amos N Tversky Collegiate Professor, Psychology and Statistics, LSA
Professor of Marketing, Stephen M Ross School of Business
Professor of Integrative Systems and Design, College of Engineering


E-mail: Email Richard Gonzalez
Address: Research Center for Group Dynamics
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan
426 Thompson Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106
Phone: 734-647-6785

Discriminating two brain regions that have been shown to respond to uncertain outcomes

Apr 19, 2015 | Brain Imaging, Psychology

Stern, E., Gonzalez, R., Welsh, R., \& Taylor, S. (In press). Salience network is less sensitive to uncertainty when financial risk is higher.  Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9, 1625-31.  PDF


Prior research links greater activation of posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) and anterior insula (AI) with decreasing outcome predictability during decision making, as measured by decreasing probability for the more likely outcome out of two or increasing outcome variance. In addition to predictability, much work indicates that the magnitude or ‘stakes’ of the outcome is also important. Despite the interest in the neural correlates of these decision variables, it is unknown whether pMFC and AI are differentially sensitive to predictability when magnitude is varied. This study examined brain activity during decision making in relation to decreasing outcome predictability for low as compared with high magnitude decisions. For low magnitude decisions, reduced predictability of the outcome was associated with greater activity in pMFC and bilateral AI, replicating prior studies. In contrast, there was no relationship between predictability and brain activity for high magnitude decisions, which tended to elicit greater pMFC and AI activity than low magnitude decisions for more predictable outcomes. These data indicate that the relationship between outcome predictability and pMFC and AI activity during decision making depends on magnitude, and suggest that these regions may be responding to the motivational salience of the decision rather than predictability information per se.