Changing value through cued approach: an automatic mechanism of behavior change

Nat Neurosci. 2014 Apr;17(4):625-30. doi: 10.1038/nn.3673. Epub 2014 Mar 9.

Abstract

It is believed that choice behavior reveals the underlying value of goods. The subjective values of stimuli can be changed through reward-based learning mechanisms as well as by modifying the description of the decision problem, but it has yet to be shown that preferences can be manipulated by perturbing intrinsic values of individual items. Here we show that the value of food items can be modulated by the concurrent presentation of an irrelevant auditory cue to which subjects must make a simple motor response (i.e., cue-approach training). Follow-up tests showed that the effects of this pairing on choice lasted at least 2 months after prolonged training. Eye-tracking during choice confirmed that cue-approach training increased attention to the cued items. Neuroimaging revealed the neural signature of a value change in the form of amplified preference-related activity in ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Cues*
  • Eye Movement Measurements
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Food*
  • Functional Neuroimaging / instrumentation
  • Functional Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Time Factors