Neural Substrates Mediating the Utility of Instrumental Divergence

AbstractWe assessed the neural substrates mediating a recently demonstrated preference for environments with high levels of instrumental divergence – a formal index of flexible operant control. Across choice scenarios, participants chose between gambling environments that differed in terms of both instrumental divergence and expected monetary pay-offs. Using model-based fMRI, we found that activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex scaled with a divergence-based measure of expected utility that reflected the value of both divergence and monetary reward. Implications for a neural common currency for information theoretic and economic variables are discussed.

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