The precision of value-based choices depends causally on fronto-parietal phase coupling

Nat Commun. 2015 Aug 20;6:8090. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9090.


Which meal would you like today, chicken or pasta? For such value-based choices, organisms must flexibly integrate various types of sensory information about internal states and the environment to transform them into actions. Recent accounts suggest that these choice-relevant processes are mediated by information transfer between functionally specialized but spatially distributed brain regions in parietal and prefrontal cortex; however, it remains unclear whether such fronto-parietal communication is causally involved in guiding value-based choices. We find that transcranially inducing oscillatory desynchronization between the frontopolar and -parietal cortex leads to more inaccurate choices between food rewards while leaving closely matched perceptual decisions unaffected. Computational modelling shows that this exogenous manipulation leads to imprecise value assignments to the choice alternatives. Thus, our study demonstrates that accurate value-based decisions critically involve coherent rhythmic information transfer between fronto-parietal brain areas and establishes an experimental approach to non-invasively manipulate the precision of value-based choices in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Young Adult