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AIM. To review the studies on brain mechanisms in decision making within the framework of the somatic marker hypothesis, and based on experiments employing the Iowa Gambling Task. DEVELOPMENT. An overview of the somatic marker hypothesis is presented together with the review of the main results obtained from research in brain damaged patients, and normal subjects with functional neuroimaging studies, that have led to the identification of the neural structures involved in decision making in humans.
CONCLUSIONS. The main region involved in decision making is the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, that integrates sensory, mnesic and emotional information relevant to the task. Other structures intervening in the various relevant processes in decision making are the amygdala (processing and encoding of the emotional signal and its association with contextual stimuli) and the cingulate cortex (process monitoring and response inhibition, especially in situations of uncertainty). The prefrontal dorsolateral cortex would also be involved through the necessary activation of the working memory in the decision making process, especially in the case of complex tasks.
AmygdalaBrain damageDecision makingEmotionPrefrontal cortexSomatic markerNeurociencia básica