Neurocognitive mechanisms underlying value-based decision-making: from core values to economic value
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Value plays a central role in practically every aspect of human life that requires a decision: whether we choose between different consumer goods, whether we decide which person we marry or which political candidate gets our vote, we choose the option that has more value to us. Over the last decade, neuroeconomic research has mapped the neural substrates of economic value, revealing that activation in brain regions such as ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC), ventral striatum or posterior
... gulate cortex reflects how much an individual values an option and which of several options he/she will choose. However, while great progress has been made exploring the mechanisms underlying concrete decisions, neuroeconomic research has been less concerned with the questions of why people value what they value, and why different people value different things. Social psychologists and sociologists have long been interested in core values, motivational constructs that are intrinsically linked to the self-schema and are used to guide actions and decisions across different situations and different time points. Core value may thus be an important determinant of individual differences in economic value computation and decision-making. Based on a review of recent neuroimaging studies investigating the neural representation of core values and their interactions with neural systems representing economic value, we outline a common framework that integrates the core value concept and neuroeconomic research on value-based decision-making.