Value-based modulations in human visual cortex

Neuron. 2008 Dec 26;60(6):1169-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.10.051.


Economists and cognitive psychologists have long known that prior rewards bias decision making in favor of options with high expected value. Accordingly, value modulates the activity of sensorimotor neurons involved in initiating movements toward one of two competing decision alternatives. However, little is known about how value influences the acquisition and representation of incoming sensory information or about the neural mechanisms that track the relative value of each available stimulus to guide behavior. Here, fMRI revealed value-related modulations throughout spatially selective areas of the human visual system in the absence of overt saccadic responses (including in V1). These modulations were primarily associated with the reward history of each stimulus and not to self-reported estimates of stimulus value. Finally, subregions of frontal and parietal cortex represent the differential value of competing alternatives and may provide signals to bias spatially selective visual areas in favor of more valuable stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reward*
  • Visual Cortex / blood supply
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / blood supply
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen