Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex plays causal role in probability weighting during risky choice

Sci Rep. 2022 Sep 27;12(1):16115. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-18529-6.


In this study, we provide causal evidence that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) supports the computation of subjective value in choices under risk via its involvement in probability weighting. Following offline continuous theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS) of the DLPFC subjects (N = 30, mean age 23.6, 56% females) completed a computerized task consisting of 96 binary lottery choice questions presented in random order. Using the hierarchical Bayesian modeling approach, we then estimated the structural parameters of risk preferences (the degree of risk aversion and the curvature of the probability weighting function) and analyzed the obtained posterior distributions to determine the effect of stimulation on model parameters. On a behavioral level, temporary downregulation of the left DLPFC excitability through cTBS decreased the likelihood of choosing an option with higher expected reward while the probability of choosing a riskier lottery did not significantly change. Modeling the stimulation effects on risk preference parameters showed anecdotal evidence as assessed by Bayes factors that probability weighting parameter increased after the left DLPFC TMS compared to sham.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex* / physiology
  • Theta Rhythm* / physiology
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Young Adult