Decision making is an adaptive behavior that takes into account several internal and external input variables and leads to the choice of a course of action over other available and often competing alternatives. While it has been studied in diverse fields ranging from mathematics, economics, ecology, and ethology to psychology and neuroscience, recent cross talk among perspectives from different fields has yielded novel descriptions of decision processes. Reinforcement-guided decision making models are based on economic and reinforcement learning theories, and their focus is on the maximization of acquired benefit over a defined period of time. Studies based on reinforcement-guided decision making have implicated a large network of neural circuits across the brain. This network includes a wide range of cortical (e.g., orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex) and subcortical (e.g., nucleus accumbens and subthalamic nucleus) brain areas and uses several neurotransmitter systems (e.g., dopaminergic and serotonergic systems) to communicate and process decision-related information. This review discusses distinct as well as overlapping contributions of these networks and neurotransmitter systems to the processing of decision making. We end the review by touching on neural circuitry and neuromodulatory regulation of exploratory decision making.
- decision making
- reinforcement-guided decision making
- anterior cingulate cortex
- orbitofrontal cortex
- nucleus accumbens
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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