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47. Neural correlates of visual attention to risk and reward evidence accumulation during decision-making
Several brain regions have been implicated in the evaluation of prospective rewarding outcomes during decision-making. Existing theories purport that the anterior insula (AI) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) are sensitive to risk, supporting risk avoidance, yet other theories posit that the ACC facilitates approach behaviors despite potential risk. The current experiment aimed to discern how attention to potential rewards and penalties corresponded with activation in brain regions associated with value-based decisions. During fMRI and eye-tracking, 18 subjects were presented with a decision between a sure-win reward or a 50/50 gamble consisting of a larger reward or penalty. Options were displayed for 7s while foveations on the potential SureWin, GambleWin, and GamblePenalty were recorded. Subjects then chose the sure-win or gamble. Behaviorally, gamble choices were predicted by foveations between decision outcomes within and across trials. Imaging results showed effects consistent with the dorsal ACC accumulating evidence favoring the chosen option while other ACC regions signaled after-the-fact that a riskier choice is likely to be made. Results in the AI showed effects consistent with accumulating evidence in favor of avoiding risk. The implications for these methods in psychopathology will be discussed.