Neural Affective Decision Theory: Choices, Brains, and Emotions
, Chris Eliasmith2, 3
and Paul Thagard2, 4, 5
We present a theory and neurocomputational model of how specific brain operations produce
complex decision and preference phenomena, including those explored in prospect theory and
decision affect theory. We propose that valuation and decision making are emotional processes,
involving interacting brain areas that include two expectation-discrepancy subsystems: a
dopamine-encoded system for positive events and a serotonin-encoded system for negative ones.
The model provides a rigorous account of loss aversion and the shape of the value function from
prospect theory. It also suggests multiple distinct neurological mechanisms by which information
framing may affect choices, including ones involving anticipated pleasure. It further offers a
neural basis for the interactions among affect, prior expectations and counterfactual comparisons
explored in decision affect theory. Along with predicting the effects of particular brain
disturbances and damage, the model suggests specific neurological explanations for individual
differences observed in choice and valuation behaviors.
Keywords: computational neuroscience; decision making; emotion; framing; prospect theory.