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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

March 2018, Vol. 30, No. 3, Pages 307-318
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01207)
© 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex Updates Chosen Value According to Choice Set Size
Article PDF (2.41 MB)
Having chosen an item typically increases the subjective value of the chosen item, and people generally enjoy making choices from larger choice sets. However, having too many items to choose from can reduce the value of chosen items—for example, because of conflict or choice difficulty. In this study, we investigated the effects of choice set size on behavioral and neural value updating (revaluation) of the chosen item. In the scanner, participants selected items from choice sets of various sizes (one, two, four, or eight items). After they chose an item, participants rerated the chosen item, and we quantified revaluation by taking the difference of postchoice minus prechoice ratings. Revaluation of chosen items increased up to choice sets of four alternatives but then decreased again for items chosen from choice sets of eight alternatives, revealing both a linear and a quadratic effect of choice set size. At the time of postchoice rating, activation of the ventrolateral pFC (VLPFC) reflected the influence of choice set size on parametric revaluation, without significant relation to either prechoice or postchoice ratings tested separately. Additional analyses revealed relations of choice set size to anterior cingulate and insula activity during actual choice and increased coupling of both regions to revaluation-related VLPFC during postchoice rating. These data suggest that the VLPFC plays a central role in a network that relates choice set size to updating the value of chosen items and integrates choice overload with value-enhancing effects of larger choice sets.