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How brains make preference-based decisions?

Why do you choose blue over white or reach for a sweet instead of savoury? Innumerable times through our lives, our brain makes preference-based decisions that governs the choices we make. Now researchers are close to finding out how.

A study published in a recent edition of Nature Communications by a team of neuroscientists at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, offers an insight into the neural mechanisms that undergird the decision-making process, which is at the core of preference-based choices that we make all the time.

We may opt for a samosa instead of say a chocolate muffin because of a preference-based decision made by our brain. But how does our brain arrive at such decisions?

Study lead Dr Philiastides said: “Our research suggests that preference-based and perceptual decisions might share a common underlying mechanism in the brain. Our findings also suggest that preference-based decisions might be represented in the same brain areas that plan the action to execute the decision, i.e. the hand reaching to grab the preferred item.”

He added: “Our findings have important implications for a broad range of socioeconomic problems ranging from public policy analysis, like informing health behaviours, to brain-informed advertisement strategies and product design.

“In addition, the work can improve our understanding of mental and neurodegenerative disorders known to compromise one’s decision-making faculties, like depression, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease by offering a direct window into the brain systems involved in goal-directed choices.”

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