luni, 18 martie 2013

Neuroscience of Decision Making

This book treats contemporary topics in cognitive neuroscience and has given me a myriad of ideas to follow and think through, making it more difficult to settle on just one idea for research. I assure myself that  this might be one of the factors characteristic to creative thinking, particularly the defocused attention described by the “cognitive disinhibition hypothesis” (p.320), although I feel the stringent need to use some sort of heuristic (that will presumably activate my left temporal pathways, p.126), a kind of spontaneous thought (p. 275), which will lead me in taking the decision to elaborate just one idea for a research project.

With this in mind I choose to elaborate on the implications and ramifications of decision making in a social context, especially under the pressure of a significant person, and find that important regions lie in the prefrontal cortex having projections to and from the hypocampus, amygdala, the human striatum which is a central region of interest when researching social decisions. Another brain region of interest is the anterior insula, which exhibits a greater activation in unfair situations, an interesting point when one considers that it is also found to be responsive to physically painful stimuli (p.233).

Taking it on the “who knew!?!” aspect that each neuroscience book comprises, I have found that:

  • Ventromedial prefrontal cortex is important in personal and social decision making, and impairment in this structure can make it difficult to choose friends, partners and activities (p. 74).
  • An abnormal social environment can have negative consequences on the structures involved in triggering somatic/emotional states, deficits which were observed in various laboratory settings, when individuals with neurobiological abnormalities failed to express proper emotions, empathize or fear negative consequences. This negative learning can be undone when individuals are exposed to proper learning environment (p. 90).
  • An acetylcholine (ACh) deficit (lack of sensory bound signals) might be involved in some hallucinatory experiences, a consistent point of the idea that hallucination is antagonistic to sensory processing(p.105).
  • The ventral striatum is sensitive to the magnitude of an anticipated reward (p.151).
  • A feature of depression is a diminished functional connectivity within fronto-cingulate pathways which can contribute to a diminished behavioral adjustment as a consequence of difficulties in cognitive control (p.212).
  • Intranasal administration of oxytocin (a neuropeptide involved in affiliative behavior) increased trust behavior (p. 231)
These ideas were just a few of the wonderfully treated ideas presented in the book. They have harvested my interest and the corresponding neuronal pathways involved in learning and memory formation.

I must confess that writing a review, or rather a personal view of the book I carefully read and learn from has proven to be a challenging task. For any confusions or misunderstandings made I apologize in advance.