Striatal Activity Underlies Novelty-Based Choice in Humans

Bianca C. Wittmann, Nathaniel D. Daw, Ben Seymour, Raymond J. Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

143 Scopus citations

Abstract

The desire to seek new and unfamiliar experiences is a fundamental behavioral tendency in humans and other species. In economic decision making, novelty seeking is often rational, insofar as uncertain options may prove valuable and advantageous in the long run. Here, we show that, even when the degree of perceptual familiarity of an option is unrelated to choice outcome, novelty nevertheless drives choice behavior. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we show that this behavior is specifically associated with striatal activity, in a manner consistent with computational accounts of decision making under uncertainty. Furthermore, this activity predicts interindividual differences in susceptibility to novelty. These data indicate that the brain uses perceptual novelty to approximate choice uncertainty in decision making, which in certain contexts gives rise to a newly identified and quantifiable source of human irrationality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-973
Number of pages7
JournalNeuron
Volume58
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 26 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)

Keywords

  • SYSNEURO

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