How decision-making affects day-to-day life

How decision-making affects day-to-day life

The following research supports the Default Mode Networks' [DMN] "Mindwandering" function which was shown to be very common in all people most of the time. Refer study at the end of this article.


How decision-making affects day-to-day life.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering

At Carnegie Mellon University, Biomedical Engineering's Matthew Smith and Byron Yu, along with former Ph.D. student Ben Cowley (Ph.D., School of Computer Science '18), have studied the neural basis through which internal states in the brain affect decision-making over an extended period of time. Through recording the activity of populations of neurons simultaneously in two brain areas, they were able to gain unprecedented insight into how the "waxing and waning" of our mental state influences the decisions we make.

While "internal state" or impulsivity are terms more generally discussed in psychology or neuroscience, the concept is familiar to anyone. You don't have to be a psychologist to know that conditions like hunger or fatigue have an impact on thinking and decision-making; these are examples of internal states. However, the biological mechanism through which these states affect critical thinking and the ability to make decisions is still poorly understood.

Studies encompassing a long period of time are rare in neuroscience, and simultaneous measurement of multiple regions of the brain even rarer, but this is exactly what Smith specializes in. The team posed subjects with a simple visual task and simultaneously measured the prefrontal cortex, an area associated with decision-making, and another area of the brain associated with visual perception. Their goal was to measure how activity in this "decision circuit" changed in repeating this task over the course of a few hours. `

What they were able to observe over the course of the task was what they have termed a "slow neural drift" in brain activity. As time passed the subjects' decisions slowly changed, and with this change the team observed a drift in brain activity synchronized across multiple brain regions, which they associated with a change in internal state over time.

One common example of this is in your brain's ability to shift focus away from an object in the center of your vision to direct mental attention toward another within your peripheral vision. This slow neural drift shifts activity over time from one region of the decision circuit to another.

The team's observations on the effect of slow neural drift on subject behavior offers insight into how these internal states may physically influence decision-making. Their findings illustrate the crucial role that internal states play in understanding the biological workings of the brain's decision circuit and how they may change over time.

Article in Science X Newsletter Monday, Aug 17, 2020.


 Matt Killingsworth’s “Does a Wandering Mind, make you Unhappy” a study of 15, 000 people across 83 professions

–Our mind wanders 46% of the time and we are unhappy when it does wander

Most wandering creates negative predictive-comparative loops

Published by

Robert McInnes

Status is online
Neuropsychology Counselor & EAP Counselor
How your day-to-day decision making is affected by your internal states. Provides further understanding of the Default Mode Network.

Comments are closed.