Doctor of Philosophy, Rutgers University (2015)
Bachelor of Arts, Suffolk University (2007)
Master of Arts, Rutgers University (2012)
Amit Etkin, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
I am interested in brain network function in humans.
View details for Web of Science ID 000416846301019
Decision making studies typically use tasks that involve concrete action-outcome contingencies, in which subjects do something and get something. No studies have addressed decision making involving abstract reinforcers, where there are no action-outcome contingencies and choices are entirely hypothetical. The present study examines these kinds of choices, as well as whether the same biases that exist for concrete reinforcer decisions, specifically framing effects, also apply during abstract reinforcer decisions. We use both General Linear Model as well as Bayes network connectivity analysis using the Independent Multi-sample Greedy Equivalence Search (IMaGES) algorithm to examine network response underlying choices for abstract reinforcers under positive and negative framing. We find for the first time that abstract reinforcer decisions activate the same network of brain regions as concrete reinforcer decisions, including the striatum, insula, anterior cingulate, and VMPFC, results that are further supported via comparison to a meta-analysis of decision making studies. Positive and negative framing activated different parts of this network, with stronger activation in VMPFC during negative framing and in DLPFC during positive, suggesting different decision making pathways depending on frame. These results were further clarified using connectivity analysis, which revealed stronger connections between anterior cingulate, insula, and accumbens during negative framing compared to positive. Taken together, these results suggest that not only do abstract reinforcer decisions rely on the same brain substrates as concrete reinforcers, but that the response underlying framing effects on abstract reinforcers also resemble those for concrete reinforcers, specifically increased limbic system connectivity during negative frames.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.09.019
View details for Web of Science ID 000345393100005
View details for PubMedID 25234115