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Temporally dissociable mechanisms of self-control: early attentional filtering versus late value modulation


Harris, Alison; Hare, Todd A; Rangel, Antonio (2013). Temporally dissociable mechanisms of self-control: early attentional filtering versus late value modulation. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(48):18917-18931.

Abstract

Optimal decision-making often requires exercising self-control. A growing fMRI literature has implicated the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) in successful self-control, but due to the limitations inherent in BOLD measures of brain activity, the neurocomputational role of this region has not been resolved. Here we exploit the high temporal resolution and whole-brain coverage of event-related potentials (ERPs) to test the hypothesis that dlPFC affects dietary self-control through two different mechanisms: attentional filtering and value modulation. Whereas attentional filtering of sensory input should occur early in the decision process, value modulation should occur later on, after the computation of stimulus values begins. Hungry human subjects were asked to make food choices while we measured neural activity using ERP in a natural condition, in which they responded freely and did not exhibit a tendency to regulate their diet, and in a self-control condition, in which they were given a financial incentive to lose weight. We then measured various neural markers associated with the attentional filtering and value modulation mechanisms across the decision period to test for changes in neural activity during the exercise of self-control. Consistent with the hypothesis, we found evidence for top-down attentional filtering early on in the decision period (150-200 ms poststimulus onset) as well as evidence for value modulation later in the process (450-650 ms poststimulus onset). We also found evidence that dlPFC plays a role in the deployment of both mechanisms.

Abstract

Optimal decision-making often requires exercising self-control. A growing fMRI literature has implicated the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) in successful self-control, but due to the limitations inherent in BOLD measures of brain activity, the neurocomputational role of this region has not been resolved. Here we exploit the high temporal resolution and whole-brain coverage of event-related potentials (ERPs) to test the hypothesis that dlPFC affects dietary self-control through two different mechanisms: attentional filtering and value modulation. Whereas attentional filtering of sensory input should occur early in the decision process, value modulation should occur later on, after the computation of stimulus values begins. Hungry human subjects were asked to make food choices while we measured neural activity using ERP in a natural condition, in which they responded freely and did not exhibit a tendency to regulate their diet, and in a self-control condition, in which they were given a financial incentive to lose weight. We then measured various neural markers associated with the attentional filtering and value modulation mechanisms across the decision period to test for changes in neural activity during the exercise of self-control. Consistent with the hypothesis, we found evidence for top-down attentional filtering early on in the decision period (150-200 ms poststimulus onset) as well as evidence for value modulation later in the process (450-650 ms poststimulus onset). We also found evidence that dlPFC plays a role in the deployment of both mechanisms.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:30 Jan 2014 15:03
Last Modified:06 Aug 2017 06:53
Publisher:Society for Neuroscience
ISSN:0270-6474
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5816-12.2013
PubMed ID:24285897

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