Navigation Links
Scientists find brain region that helps you make up your mind
Date:11/24/2013

One of the smallest parts of the brain is getting a second look after new research suggests it plays a crucial role in decision making.

A University of British Columbia study published today in Nature Neuroscience says the lateral habenula, a region of the brain linked to depression and avoidance behaviors, has been largely misunderstood and may be integral in cost-benefit decisions.

"These findings clarify the brain processes involved in the important decisions that we make on a daily basis, from choosing between job offers to deciding which house or car to buy," says Prof. Stan Floresco of UBC's Dept. of Psychology and Brain Research Centre (BRC). "It also suggests that the scientific community has misunderstood the true functioning of this mysterious, but important, region of the brain."

In the study, scientists trained lab rats to choose between a consistent small reward (one food pellet) or a potentially larger reward (four food pellets) that appeared sporadically. Like humans, the rats tended to choose larger rewards when costsin this case, the amount of time they had to wait before receiving food--were low and preferred smaller rewards when such risks were higher.

Previous studies suggest that turning off the lateral habenula would cause rats to choose the larger, riskier reward more often, but that was not the case. Instead, the rats selected either option at random, no longer showing the ability to choose the best option for them.

The findings have important implications for depression treatment. "Deep brain stimulation which is thought to inactivate the lateral habenula -- has been reported to improve depressive symptoms in humans," Floresco says. "But our findings suggest these improvements may not be because patients feel happier. They may simply no longer care as much about what is making them feel depressed."

Background

Floresco, who conducted the study with PhD candidate Colin Stopper, says more investigation is needed to understand the complete brain functions involved in cost-benefit decision processes and related behaviour. A greater understanding of decision-making processes is also crucial, they say, because many psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, stimulant abuse and depression, are associated with impairments in these processes.

The lateral habenula is considered one of the oldest regions of the brain, evolution-wise.


'/>"/>

Contact: Stan Floresco
floresco@psych.ubc.ca
604-783-8549
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. In plant photosynthesis, scientists see clues for improving solar energy cells
2. Scientists have been able to grow artificial skin using stem cells from the umbilical cord
3. Spanish scientists identify a new ancestral enzyme that facilitates DNA repair
4. UT Dallas computer scientists create 3-D technique
5. Salk scientists for the first time generate mini-kidney structures from human stem cells
6. The Gorgons of the eastern Pacific: scientists describe 2 new gorgonian soft coral species
7. Bleeding symptom leads scientists to intracellular traffickers role in virus propagation
8. Patients and scientists join forces to tackle Friedreichs Ataxia
9. Protein-rich breakfast helps to curb appetite throughout the morning, scientists find
10. Natures glowing slime: Scientists peek into hidden sea worms light
11. Bold new partnership launches to harness potential of data scientists and big data
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/19/2016)... The new GEZE SecuLogic access ... "all-in-one" system solution for all door components. It can ... door interface with integration authorization management system, and thus ... minimal dimensions of the access control and the optimum ... offer considerable freedom of design with regard to the ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... April 14, 2016 BioCatch ... Detection, today announced the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger ... role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a ... of the deployment of its platform at several of ... technology, which discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, is ...
(Date:3/31/2016)...  Genomics firm Nabsys has completed a financial  restructuring ... , M.D., who returned to the company in October ... team, including Chief Technology Officer, John Oliver , ... and Vice President of Software and Informatics, Michael ... Dr. Bready served as CEO of Nabsys from 2005-2014 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Calif. , June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, ... biological discoveries to the medical community, has closed its ... Matthew Nunez . "We have received ... with the capital we need to meet our current ... essentially provide us the runway to complete validation on ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 On Wednesday, June 22, ... down 0.22%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower ... 2,085.45, down 0.17%. Stock-Callers.com has initiated coverage on the following ... Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ... BIND ). Learn more about these stocks by accessing ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Regulatory Compliance Associates® ... provides a free webinar on Performing Quality Investigations: Getting to Root ... CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still a major concern to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ) today announced ... life sciences incubator to accelerate the development of new ... at QB3@953 was created to help high-potential life science ... early stage organizations - access to laboratory infrastructure. ... two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing each winner with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: