The problem with value

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014 Jun:43:259-68. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.03.027. Epub 2014 Apr 13.


Neural correlates of value have been extensively reported in a diverse set of brain regions. However, in many cases it is difficult to determine whether a particular neural response pattern corresponds to a value-signal per se as opposed to an array of alternative non-value related processes, such as outcome-identity coding, informational coding, encoding of autonomic and skeletomotor consequences, alongside previously described "salience" or "attentional" effects. Here, I review a number of experimental manipulations that can be used to test for value, and I identify the challenges in ascertaining whether a particular neural response is or is not a value signal. Finally, I emphasize that some non-value related signals may be especially informative as a means of providing insight into the nature of the decision-making related computations that are being implemented in a particular brain region.

Keywords: Decision-making; Learning; Neuroeconomics; Reward.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reward*