Monday 15 December 2008
Lower Ground Floor Lecture Theatre, Psychology Department, Bedford Way
The neurobiology of self-control
Optimal decision-making often requires self-control. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging we examined the neural mechanisms of self-control in real-life decisions. We show that ventral medial prefrontal cortex activity reflected value computations during decision-making. Further, in dieting subjects who exercised self-control in order to lose weight, ventral medial prefrontal cortex represented the separate taste and health aspects of a food item consistent with the idea of a common valuation system in goal-directed choice. When subjects used self-control, activity in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex increased and this increased activity correlated with changes in ventral medial prefrontal cortex value computations. These data suggest that self-control is implemented by dorsolateral prefrontal cortex modulation of a single common value system in ventral medial prefrontal cortex.