Scientists find brain region that helps make up your mind
Decision-making abilities may be attributed to a small part of the brain that has previously been shown to be linked to depression, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia examined the role of the brain region—called the lateral habenula—on lab rats’ decision-making abilities.
They trained the rats to choose between a small food reward and a larger food reward (one pellet versus four pellets). When risk—or the amount of time the rats had to wait for their food—was high, they opted for the smaller reward; when risk was low, they preferred the larger reward.
The findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, also showed that when the lateral habenula was “turned off,” the rats demonstrated an inability to choose the best option for them when weighing risk and reward.
The researchers said further research into cognitive decision processes is important for developing more effective treatments for people living with psychiatric disorders, including depression and schizophrenia.