A Preferential Role for Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex in Assessing "the Value of the Whole" in Multiattribute Object Evaluation

Gabriel Pelletier, Nadav Aridan, Lesley K. Fellows, Tom Schonberg
2021 Journal of Neuroscience  
Everyday decision-making commonly involves assigning values to complex objects with multiple value-relevant attributes. Drawing on object recognition theories, we hypothesized two routes to multiattribute evaluation: assessing the value of the whole object based on holistic attribute configuration or summing individual attribute values. In two samples of healthy human male and female participants undergoing eye tracking and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while evaluating novel
more » ... do objects, we found evidence for both forms of evaluation. Fixations to and transitions between attributes differed systematically when the value of pseudo objects was associated with individual attributes or attribute configurations. Ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and perirhinal cortex were engaged when configural processing was required. These results converge with our recent findings that individuals with vmPFC lesions were impaired in decisions requiring configural evaluation but not when evaluating the sum of the parts. This suggests that multiattribute decision-making engages distinct evaluation mechanisms relying on partially dissociable neural substrates, depending on the relationship between attributes and value.
doi:10.1523/jneurosci.0241-21.2021 fatcat:cz3no5c3sjg3pf7mqot5j34toa