• decision making;
  • ventromedial prefrontal cortex;
  • fMRI;
  • affective judgment;
  • high- and low-risk decisions;
  • expectancy


Damasio proposes in his somatic marker theory that not only cognitive but also affective components are critical for decision making. Since affective judgment requires an interplay between affective and cognitive components, it might be considered a key process in decision making that has been linked to neural activity in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we examined the relationship between VMPFC, emotionally (unexpected)- and cognitively (expected)-accentuated affective judgment, and beneficial decision making (Iowa Gambling Task; IGT) in healthy subjects. Neuronal activity in the VMPFC during unexpected affective judgment significantly correlated with both global and final performance in the IGT task. These findings suggest that the degree to which subjects recruit the VMPFC during affective judgment is related to beneficial performance in decision making in gambling. Hum Brain Mapp 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.