The role of human orbitofrontal cortex in value comparison for incommensurable objects

Thomas H B FitzGerald, Ben Seymour, Raymond J Dolan

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225 Citations (Scopus)


The human orbitofrontal cortex is strongly implicated in appetitive valuation. Whether its role extends to support comparative valuation necessary to explain probabilistic choice patterns for incommensurable goods is unknown. Using a binary choice paradigm, we derived the subjective values of different bundles of goods, under conditions of both gain and loss. We demonstrate that orbitofrontal activation reflects the difference in subjective value between available options, an effect evident across valuation for both gains and losses. In contrast, activation in dorsal striatum and supplementary motor areas reflects subjects' choice probabilities. These findings indicate that orbitofrontal cortex plays a pivotal role in valuation for incommensurable goods, a critical component process in human decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8388-95
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009


  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cues
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Oxygen
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Probability
  • Reaction Time
  • Reward
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult

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