Dissociating valuation and saliency signals during decision-making

Cereb Cortex. 2011 Jan;21(1):95-102. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhq065. Epub 2010 May 5.


There is a growing consensus that the brain computes value and saliency-like signals at the time of decision-making. Value signals are essential for making choices. Saliency signals are related to motivation, attention, and arousal. Unfortunately, an unequivocal characterization of the areas involved in these 2 distinct sets of processes is made difficult by the fact that, in most experiments, both types of signals are highly correlated. We dissociated value and saliency signals using a novel human functional magnetic resonance imaging decision-making task. Activity in the medial orbitofrontal, rostral anterior cingulate, and posterior cingulate cortices was modulated by value but not saliency. The opposite was true for dorsal anterior cingulate, supplementary motor area, insula, and the precentral and fusiform gyri. Only the ventral striatum and the cuneus were modulated by both value and saliency.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reward
  • Young Adult