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Decision Making and the Brain: Neurologists’ View

Author(s): Zvezdan Pirtošek | Dejan Georgiev | Milica Gregorič-Kramberger

Journal: Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems
ISSN 1334-4684

Volume: 7;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 38;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: cognitive neuroscience | brain | decision making | free will | electrophysiology | functional imaging | dopamine

The article reflects the fact, that concepts like decision making and free will have entered the field of cognitive neuroscience towards the end of 20th century. It gives an overview of brain structures involved in decision making and the concept of free will; and presenting the results of clinical observations and new methods (functional neuroimaging, electrophysiology) it postulates possible mechanisms of these processes. We give a review of the neuroanatomy, specially discussing those parts of the brain important to the present topic, because the process of decision making is dependent on deep subcortical as well as superficial cortical structures. Dopamine has a central role in the in process of reward related behaviour and hedonism. A list of brain structures, related to dopamine action, is also given. The article especially concentrates on the Single Photon Emission Computer Tomography studies in patients with Parkinson’s disease (neuroimaging), as well as to the studies concerning the Readiness Potential and Endogeneous Potential P300 (electrophysiology). In the end, we discuss the volition, whose functional anatomy overlaps with the functional anatomy of free will and decision making processes.
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