Where Value Sits in the Brain, Sorta

There is a specific part of the brain where, perhaps, our “values” are encoded, long-term in the cells genomes.

“All of us make many decisions every day. For most things, such as which jacket to wear or where to grab a cup of coffee, there’s usually no right answer, so we often decide using values rooted in our past experiences. Now, neuroscientists have identified the part of the mammalian brain that stores information essential to such value-based decision making. Researchers zeroed in on this particular brain region, the RSC…”

(The research) system was also set up to encourage the mice to make value-based decisions, including choosing between two drinking tubes, each with a different probability of delivering water. During this decision-making process, the RSC proved to be the region of the brain where neurons persistently lit up, reflecting how the mouse evaluated one option over the other. These studies confirmed that, with the RSC turned off, the mice couldn’t retrieve value information based on past experience…the RSC is heavily interconnected with other key brain regions, including those involved in learning, memory, and controlling movement. This indicates that the RSC may be well situated to serve as a hub for storing value information, allowing it to be accessed and acted upon when it is needed…it will also be important to explore how activity in this brain area may be altered in schizophrenia, dementia, substance abuse, and other conditions that may affect decision-making abilities”

Note: Problems with this model:

  • the values are encoded in the genes of the cells, not the tissues
  • Areas of the brain are hyper-parallel processors, so to say one “region” does something is misleading. It is the genes and wiring connecting regions that really “does” something.

Source: https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2020/01/16/a-real-time-look-at-value-based-decision-making/

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