Advanced Intelligent Computing Theories and Applications. With Aspects of Contemporary Intelligent Computing Techniques

Volume 15 of the series Communications in Computer and Information Science pp 345-355

Brain Mechanisms for Making, Breaking, and Changing Rules

  • Daniel S. LevineAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Texas at Arlington


Individuals differ widely, and the same person varies over time, in their tendency to seek maximum information versus their tendency to follow the simplest heuristics. Neuroimaging studies suggest which brain regions might mediate the balance between knowledge maximization and heuristic simplification. The amygdala is more activated in individuals who use primitive heuristics, whereas two areas of the frontal lobes are more activated in individuals with a strong knowledge drive: one area involved in detecting risk or conflict, and another involved in choosing task-appropriate responses. Both of these motivations have engineering uses. There is benefit to understanding a situation at a high enough level to respond in a flexible manner when the context is complex and time allows detailed consideration. Yet simplifying heuristics can yield benefits when the context is routine or when time is limited.