Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 1492–1508 | Cite as

Neural signatures underlying deliberation in human foraging decisions

  • Samantha V. Abram
  • Michael Hanke
  • A. David RedishEmail author
  • Angus W. MacDonaldIIIEmail author


Humans have a remarkable capacity to mentally project themselves far ahead in time. This ability, which entails the mental simulation of events, is thought to be fundamental to deliberative decision making, as it allows us to search through and evaluate possible choices. Many decisions that humans make are foraging decisions, in which one must decide whether an available offer is worth taking, when compared to unknown future possibilities (i.e., the background). Using a translational decision-making paradigm designed to reveal decision preferences in rats, we found that humans engaged in deliberation when making foraging decisions. A key feature of this task is that preferences (and thus, value) are revealed as a function of serial choices. Like rats, humans also took longer to respond when faced with difficult decisions near their preference boundary, which was associated with prefrontal and hippocampal activation, exemplifying cross-species parallels in deliberation. Furthermore, we found that voxels within the visual cortices encoded neural representations of the available possibilities specifically following regret-inducing experiences, in which the subject had previously rejected a good offer only to encounter a low-valued offer on the subsequent trial.


Deliberation Episodic simulation Foraging Regret fMRI Neural decoding 


Supplementary material

13415_2019_733_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (7.5 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 7.53 MB)


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Sierra Pacific Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Centers, San Francisco VA Medical Center, and the University of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Psychoinformatics Laboratory, Institute of PsychologyOtto-von-Guericke UniversityMagdeburgGermany
  4. 4.Center for Behavioral Brain SciencesMagdeburgGermany
  5. 5.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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