The precuneus may encode irrationality in human gambling

Abstract

Humans often make irrational decisions, especially psychiatric patients who have dysfunctional cognitive and emotional circuitry. Understanding the neural basis of decision-making is therefore essential towards patient management, yet current studies suffer from several limitations. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies in humans have dominated decision-making neuroscience, but have poor temporal resolution and the blood oxygenation level-dependent signal is only a proxy for neural activity. On the other hand, lesion studies in humans used to infer functionality in decision-making lack characterization of neural activity altogether. Using a combination of local field potential recordings in human subjects performing a financial decision-making task, spectral analyses, and non-parametric cluster statistics, we analyzed the activity in the precuneus. In nine subjects, the neural activity modulated significantly between rational and irrational trials in the precuneus (p <; 0.001). In particular, high-frequency activity (70-100 Hz) increased when irrational decisions were made. Although preliminary, these results suggest suppression of gamma rhythms via electrical stimulation in the precuneus as a therapeutic intervention for pathological decision-making.

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