Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 213, Issue 6, pp 535–551 | Cite as

Structure–function relationships in the processing of regret in the orbitofrontal cortex

  • Tobias Sommer
  • Jan Peters
  • Jan Gläscher
  • Christian Büchel


The influence of counterfactual thinking and regret on choice behavior has been widely acknowledged in economic science (Bell in Oper Res 30:961–981, 1982; Kahneman and Tversky in Judgment under uncertainty: heuristics and biases. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 201–210, 1982; Loomes and Sugden in Econ J 92:805–824, 1982). Neuroimaging studies have only recently begun to explore the neural correlates of this psychological factor and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) activity was observed in several of them depending of the exact characteristics of the employed paradigm. This selective OFC involvement and, moreover, a consistently found dissociation of medial and lateral OFC activity clusters allow inferences to the function of this structure in counterfactual thinking and regret. Vice versa, the differential contribution of OFC subregions to these processes also adds evidence to the current debate on the function of this cortical structure in decision-making that attracted increasing attention in recent years.


Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) Medial OFC Lateral OFC Regret Decision-making Counterfactual thinking 



We would like to thank Xun Liu for providing the behavioral data for the reanalysis. This work was supported by the BMBF “National Network Computational Neuroscience–Bernstein Focus: Neuronal Basis of Learning”.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tobias Sommer
    • 1
  • Jan Peters
    • 1
  • Jan Gläscher
    • 2
  • Christian Büchel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Systems Neuroscience, NeuroImage NordUniversity of Hamburg Medical SchoolHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Division of Humanities and Social SciencesCaltechPasadenaUSA

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