The role of the amygdala in signaling prospective outcome of choice

Itamar Kahn, Yehezkel Yeshurun, Pia Rotshtein, Itzhak Fried, Dafna Ben-Bashat, Talma Hendler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Can brain activity reveal a covert choice? Making a choice often evokes distinct emotions that accompany decision processes. Amygdala has been implicated in choice behavior that is guided by a prospective negative outcome. However, its specific involvement in emotional versus cognitive processing of choice behavior has been a subject of controversy. In this study, the human amygdala was monitored by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while subjects were playing in a naturalistic choice paradigm against the experimenter. In order to win, players had to occasionally choose to bluff their opponent, risk "getting caught," and suffer a loss. A critical period, when choice has been made but outcome was still unknown, activated the amygdala preferentially following the choice that entailed risk of loss. Thus, the response of the amygdala differentiated between subject's covert choice of either playing fair or foul. These results support a role of the amygdala in choice behavior, both in the appraisal of inherent value of choice and the signaling of prospective negative outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-994
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Yaara Yeshurun for her significant help in data analyses, Vivian Drori for helping with the SCRs data collection, Pazit Pianka and Silvia Bunge for editing the manuscript, Rafael Malach for helpful suggestions on data analysis, and D. Badre for valuable comments on the manuscript. We thank Nadav Aleh for providing motivation for this research. This work was supported by Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Adams Super Center for Brain Studies, and Minerva Center for Applied Geometry, Tel Aviv University, and Academy of Science Center of Excellence.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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