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:6/9/2016)... an innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of ... make sure the right employees are actually signing in, and to even control the ... ... ... ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... 2016 Das DOTM ... Nepal hat ein 44 Millionen ... Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung und IT-Infrastruktur, an ... und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. Zahlreiche renommierte internationale ... teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde als konformste und ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... June 2, 2016 Perimeter Surveillance ... Unmanned Systems, Physical Infrastructure, Support & Other Service  ... visiongain offers comprehensive analysis of the global ... will generate revenues of $17.98 billion in 2016. ... Inc, a leader in software and hardware technologies for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. ... years, is proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation of ... company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the Company"), ... portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the treatment ... represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing the ... cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved with ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their ... agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, ... connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation ... increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class ... across 15 countries. Read More About the Class of ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: