Information integration and Decision-making
Decision-making underlies the ability to flexibly explore and to optimally choose between multiple response options and to quickly react to behaviorally relevant changes in the
environment. This ability is a crucial attribute of adaptive behavior in humans and nonhuman primates, and a cornerstone of both the evolutionary success of primate species as well as
the individual success of an organism. It has been hypothesized that the substantial expansion of the cerebral cortex in primates, in particular the frontal lobes, took place to accommodate
neural substrates supporting adaptive decision abilities required in the highly complex social and communicative environments of primate species. Decision-making is fundamentally integrative, merging the complex sensorimotor and cognitive processes through which causal relations between actions and consequences are encoded, evaluated, retrieved, and maintained in working memory, with the motivational processes that determine the value, or utility, of actions.
The research activities assembled in this cluster aim to elucidate the neurological and psychological underpinnings of decision making by individuals and groups. Exemplary questions are:
- Which neural mechanisms underlie evaluation of sensory and internal representations for decisions during ambiguous choice?
- How are costs, such as physical effort, and benefits, such as primary reinforcers, integrated at the neural level during decision making?
- How do humans and nonhuman primates utilize information about the performance of other group members to select their strategies in a social setting?