Mmm, brains

I'm always a little suspicious of fMRI-based studies, but…

We tend to be creatures of habit. In fact, the human brain has a learning system that is devoted to guiding us through routine, or habitual, behaviors. At the same time, the brain has a separate goal-directed system for the actions we undertake only after careful consideration of the consequences. We switch between the two systems as needed. But how does the brain know which system to give control to at any given moment? Enter The Arbitrator.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have, for the first time, pinpointed areas of the brain—the inferior lateral prefrontal cortex and frontopolar cortex—that seem to serve as this “arbitrator” between the two decision-making systems, weighing the reliability of the predictions each makes and then allocating control accordingly. 

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Pinpointing the Brain’s Arbitrator
Caltech researchers ID a brain mechanism that weighs decisions We tend to be creatures of habit. In fact, the human brain has a learning system that is devoted to guiding us through routine, or habitual, behaviors.

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