Michael L. Platt, MD
By studying how monkeys choose to look at lighted targets for juice rewards, neurobiologists have identified a still-mysterious region of the cerebral cortex as an area that judges the value of rewards, and adjusts that value as circumstances change.
The finding adds a significant piece to the puzzle of how the brain is wired to make judgments, perhaps even moral judgments, about the outside world, said the researchers. The findings may also have implications for understanding a number of neurological disorders, said the scientists. Damage to the area the researchers studied -- called the posterior cingulate cortex -- has been linked to cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease, as well as pathologies of stroke, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and spatial disorientation.
The researchers, led by Michael Platt, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center assistant professor of neurobiology, published their findings in the Dec. 4, 2003, issue of the journal Neuron. Other authors on the paper were joint lead authors Allison McCoy of Duke and Justin Crowley, Ph.D., of Carnegie Mellon University; and Golnaz Haghighian and Heather Dean of Duke.
Dennis Meredith | dukemed news
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