Brief Reports

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 515-520

First online:

Components of working memory and somatic markers in decision making

  • Tina L. JamesonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Washington State University
  • , John M. HinsonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Washington State University Email author 
  • , Paul WhitneyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Washington State University


According to Damasio’s somatic marker hypothesis, affective reactions ordinarily guide and simplify decision making. In an earlier study, we used a modified version of the gambling task developed by Bechara and colleagues so that we could explore the relations among decision making, working memory (WM) load, and formation of somatic markers. This prior work found that an increased WM load produced by secondary tasks interfered with the development of somatic markers and led to poorer gambling task performance. In the present study, we tested whether secondary tasks affect the executive functions of WM, verbal buffering, or both. Our findings indicate that verbal buffering alone does not interfere with gambling task performance or the development of somatic markers. Interference with the executive functions of WM is necessary to disrupt gambling performance and somatic markers.