Independent Junior Research Group Neurocognition of Decision Making

The Independent Junior Research Group Neurocognition of Decision Making (Head: Hauke R. Heekeren) investigated mechanisms of decision making in the human brain.

Every second the human brain has to make (often vital) decisions based on countless impressions it receives via our sensory organs and then processes. Is the dog heading towards us a menacing German Shepherd or the neighbor’s friendly Collie? Is that facial expression a friendly or provocative one? Is the streetlight red or yellow?

The Independent Junior Research Group investigated the human brain when making such decisions. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), they showed how activity patterns in brain regions change in the course of decision-making processes. In doing so, they bridged the gap between simple perceptual decisions and decisions in social contexts.

Old age and neurological disorders—such as schizophrenia, dementia or in the wake of a stroke—can however, impair decision making. The results of the research are therefore intended not only to better understand how healthy individual make decisions but also to help develop approaches that correct such impairments.

Research period: October 2005–September 2010


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