How the win-lose balance situation affects subsequent decision-making: functional magnetic resonance imaging evidence from a gambling task

Neuroscience. 2014 Jul 11;272:131-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.04.058. Epub 2014 May 9.


Humans have been consistently shown to be bad at making decisions, especially in disadvantageous situations. In this study, we designed a task that simulates real-life non-strategic gambling to examine the effect of win-lose balance situations (WIN, LOSS, TIE) on decision-making. In behavioral performances, participants showed shorter response time (RT) in LOSS than in WIN and TIE conditions. Imaging results revealed that decisions in WIN are associated with increased brain activations in the posterior cingulate cortex; decisions in LOSS are associated with increased brain activations in the insula and decreased activations in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG). Positive correlation was found between brain activation in IFG and RT in LOSS. Overall, we concluded that, in disadvantageous conditions, participants are frustrated by their negative results and tend to make a random selection without full consideration. In advantageous conditions, participants' motivations to gamble are elicited and they tend to engage in more endeavors in making decisions.

Keywords: balance situation; decision-making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reward*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult