Researchers have pinpointed a part of the human brain responsible for “on-the-fly” decision-making. According to the findings published in JNeurosci, the anterior cingulate cortex integrates disparate information about the desirability and amount of an option to inform choice.
Choosing between apples and oranges requires one to consider both the type of fruit and the number of items available. Equipped with this information, decision-makers weigh the quality and quantity of the options to choose the one that meets their needs.
Using gift cards to assess where participants prefer to shop (quality) and how much they are given to spend (quantity), Archy de Berker and colleagues studied how the brain combines these two components into subjective value. The researchers identified multiple brain regions involved in this process. Activity in the inferior frontal gyrus was associated with quality, whereas activity in the intra-parietal sulcus was associated with quantity. Although several other parts of the brain were linked to the interaction between quality and quantity, the anterior cingulate cortex was the only one activated by all three factors.