Strategic Control in Decision Making Under Uncertainty

Eur J Neurosci. 2012 April ; 35(7): 1075–1082

16 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2014 Last revised: 31 Dec 2016

See all articles by Vinod Venkatraman

Vinod Venkatraman

Temple University - Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management

Scott Huettel

Duke University - Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Date Written: April 1, 2012

Abstract

Complex economic decisions – whether investing money for retirement or purchasing some new electronic gadget – often involve uncertainty about the likely consequences of our choices. Critical for resolving that uncertainty are strategic meta-decision processes, which allow people to simplify complex decision problems, to evaluate outcomes against a variety of contexts, and to flexibly match behavior to changes in the environment. In recent years, substantial research implicates the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) in the flexible control of behavior. However, nearly all such evidence comes from paradigms involving executive function or response selection, not complex decision making. Here, we review evidence that demonstrates that the dmPFC contributes to strategic control in complex decision making. This region contains a functional topography such that the posterior dmPFC supports response-related control while the anterior dmPFC supports strategic control. Activation in the anterior dmPFC signals changes in how a decision problem is represented, which in turn can shape computational processes elsewhere in the brain. Based on these findings, we argue both for generalized contributions of the dmPFC to cognitive control, and for specific computational roles for its subregions depending upon the task demands and context. We also contend that these strategic considerations are also likely to be critical for decision making in other domains, including interpersonal interactions in social settings.

Suggested Citation

Venkatraman, Vinod and Huettel, Scott, Strategic Control in Decision Making Under Uncertainty (April 1, 2012). Eur J Neurosci. 2012 April ; 35(7): 1075–1082, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2430767

Vinod Venkatraman (Contact Author)

Temple University - Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Scott Huettel

Duke University - Department of Psychology and Neuroscience ( email )

Durham, NC 27708
United States

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