Forgot what you like? Evidence for hippocampal dependence of value-based decisions
2017; 7 (1): 17738
Consistent decisions are intuitively desirable and theoretically important for utility maximization. Neuroeconomics has established the neurobiological substrate of value representation, but brain regions that provide input to this network is less explored. The constructed-preference tradition within behavioral decision research gives a critical role to associative cognitive processes, suggesting a hippocampal role in making consistent decisions. We compared the performance of 31 patients with mediotemporal lobe (MTL) epilepsy and hippocampal lesions, 30 patients with extratemporal lobe epilepsy, and 30 healthy controls on two tasks: binary choices between candy bars based on their preferences and a number-comparison control task where the larger number is chosen. MTL patients made more inconsistent choices than the other two groups for the value-based choice but not the number-comparison task. These inconsistencies correlated with the volume of compromised hippocampal tissue. These results add to increasing evidence on a critical involvement of the MTL in preference construction and value-based choices.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-18015-4
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5735154
Applying novel technologies and methods to inform the ontology of self-regulation
Behaviour Research and Therapy
Self-regulation is a broad construct representing the general ability to recruit cognitive, motivational and emotional resources to achieve long-term goals. This construct has been implicated in a host of health-risk behaviors, and is a promising target for fostering beneficial behavior change. Despite its clear importance, the behavioral, psychological and neural components of self-regulation remain poorly understood, which contributes to theoretical inconsistencies and hinders maximally effective intervention development. We outline a research program that seeks to define a neuropsychological ontology of self-regulation, articulating the cognitive components that compose self-regulation, their relationships, and their associated measurements. The ontology will be informed by two large-scale approaches to assessing individual differences: first purely behaviorally using data collected via Amazon's Mechanical Turk, then coupled with neuroimaging data collected from a separate population. To validate the ontology and demonstrate its utility, we will then use it to contextualize health risk behaviors in two exemplar behavioral groups: overweight/obese adults who binge eat and smokers. After identifying ontological targets that precipitate maladaptive behavior, we will craft interventions that engage these targets. If successful, this work will provide a structured, holistic account of self-regulation in the form of an explicit ontology, which will better clarify the pattern of deficits related to maladaptive health behavior, and provide direction for more effective behavior change interventions.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.brat.2017.09.014
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5801197
The Experiment Factory: Standardizing Behavioral Experiments
FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY
The administration of behavioral and experimental paradigms for psychology research is hindered by lack of a coordinated effort to develop and deploy standardized paradigms. While several frameworks (Mason and Suri, 2011; McDonnell et al., 2012; de Leeuw, 2015; Lange et al., 2015) have provided infrastructure and methods for individual research groups to develop paradigms, missing is a coordinated effort to develop paradigms linked with a system to easily deploy them. This disorganization leads to redundancy in development, divergent implementations of conceptually identical tasks, disorganized and error-prone code lacking documentation, and difficulty in replication. The ongoing reproducibility crisis in psychology and neuroscience research (Baker, 2015; Open Science Collaboration, 2015) highlights the urgency of this challenge: reproducible research in behavioral psychology is conditional on deployment of equivalent experiments. A large, accessible repository of experiments for researchers to develop collaboratively is most efficiently accomplished through an open source framework. Here we present the Experiment Factory, an open source framework for the development and deployment of web-based experiments. The modular infrastructure includes experiments, virtual machines for local or cloud deployment, and an application to drive these components and provide developers with functions and tools for further extension. We release this infrastructure with a deployment (http://www.expfactory.org) that researchers are currently using to run a set of over 80 standardized web-based experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk. By providing open source tools for both deployment and development, this novel infrastructure holds promise to bring reproducibility to the administration of experiments, and accelerate scientific progress by providing a shared community resource of psychological paradigms.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00610
View details for Web of Science ID 000374735800001
View details for PubMedID 27199843
Sound credit scores and financial decisions despite cognitive aging
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2015; 112 (1): 65-69
Age-related deterioration in cognitive ability may compromise the ability of older adults to make major financial decisions. We explore whether knowledge and expertise accumulated from past decisions can offset cognitive decline to maintain decision quality over the life span. Using a unique dataset that combines measures of cognitive ability (fluid intelligence) and of general and domain-specific knowledge (crystallized intelligence), credit report data, and other measures of decision quality, we show that domain-specific knowledge and expertise provide an alternative route for sound financial decisions. That is, cognitive aging does not spell doom for financial decision-making in domains where the decision maker has developed expertise. These results have important implications for public policy and for the design of effective interventions and decision aids.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1413570112
View details for Web of Science ID 000347447100030
View details for PubMedID 25535381