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Social NeuroscienceToward Understanding the Underpinnings of the Social Mind$
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Alexander Todorov, Susan Fiske, and Deborah Prentice

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195316872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195316872.001.0001

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The Neural Basis of Emotional Decision-Making

The Neural Basis of Emotional Decision-Making

(p.160) Chapter 11 The Neural Basis of Emotional Decision-Making
Social Neuroscience

Jennifer S. Beer

Jamil P. Bhanji

Oxford University Press

The role of orbitofrontal cortex in emotional decision making has recently been called into question. Recent research that draws on both social psychological and neuroscience approaches (i.e., social neuroscience) suggests that orbitofrontal function may be better characterized as supporting self-insight. From this perspective, the orbitofrontal cortex may have only a distal influence on emotional decision making. Self-insight processes affect which emotions are generated, and these emotions affect subsequent decision making. This chapter argues that this research does not refute the theorized adaptive role of emotion in decision making. Instead, this research highlights the need to expand the focus on neural investigations of emotional decision making into systems outside the orbitofrontal cortex. A small number of studies suggest other brain regions that may support the adaptive role of emotion in decision making, but strong conclusions are not currently possible because (1) emotional decision making is not the main focus of some studies so it can only be inferred; or (2) a lack of behavioral effects make it difficult to interpret the psychological meaning of neural activity. The chapter concludes by proposing future directions for “social neuroscience” investigations of emotional decision making.

Keywords:   emotional decision making, orbitofrontal cortex, social neuroscience, self-insight, adaptive role

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