Action versus valence in decision making

Trends Cogn Sci. 2014 Apr;18(4):194-202. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.01.003. Epub 2014 Feb 25.


The selection of actions, and the vigor with which they are executed, are influenced by the affective valence of predicted outcomes. This interaction between action and valence significantly influences appropriate and inappropriate choices and is implicated in the expression of psychiatric and neurological abnormalities, including impulsivity and addiction. We review a series of recent human behavioral, neuroimaging, and pharmacological studies whose key design feature is an orthogonal manipulation of action and valence. These studies find that the interaction between the two is subject to the critical influence of dopamine. They also challenge existing views that neural representations in the striatum focus on valence, showing instead a dominance of the anticipation of action.

Keywords: Pavlovian; action; dopamine; instrumental; striatum; value.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neuroimaging


  • Dopamine