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Endogenous fluctuations in the dopaminergic midbrain drive behavioral choice variability

Chew, B; Hauser, TU; Papoutsi, M; Magerkurth, J; Dolan, RJ; Rutledge, RB; (2019) Endogenous fluctuations in the dopaminergic midbrain drive behavioral choice variability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 10.1073/pnas.1900872116. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Human behavior is surprisingly variable, even when facing the same problem under identical circumstances. A prominent example is risky decision making. Economic theories struggle to explain why humans are so inconsistent. Resting-state studies suggest that ongoing endogenous fluctuations in brain activity can influence low-level perceptual and motor processes, but it remains unknown whether endogenous fluctuations also influence high-level cognitive processes including decision making. Here, using real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging, we tested whether risky decision making is influenced by endogenous fluctuations in blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) activity in the dopaminergic midbrain, encompassing ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra. We show that low prestimulus brain activity leads to increased risky choice in humans. Using computational modeling, we show that increased risk taking is explained by enhanced phasic responses to offers in a decision network. Our findings demonstrate that endogenous brain activity provides a physiological basis for variability in complex human behavior.

Type: Article
Title: Endogenous fluctuations in the dopaminergic midbrain drive behavioral choice variability
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1900872116
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1900872116
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Behavioral variability, dopaminergic midbrain, intrinsic brain fluctuations, real-time fMRI, risky decision making
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neurodegenerative Diseases
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10080773
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