Decision-making in a risk-taking task: A PET study

Monique Ernst, Karen Bolla, Maria Mouratidis, Carlo Contoreggi, John A. Matochik, V. Kurian, Jean Lud Cadet, Alane S. Kimes, Edythe D. London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

334 Scopus citations


As decision-making is central to motivated behavior, understanding its neural substrates can help elucidate the deficits that characterize various maladaptive behaviors. Twenty healthy adults performed a risk-taking task during positron emission tomography with 15O-labeled water. The task, a computerized card game, tests the ability to weigh short-term rewards against long-term losses. A control task matched all components of the risk-taking task except for decision-making and the difference between responses to contingent and non-contingent reward and punishment. Decision-making (2 runs of the active task minus 2 runs of the control task) activated orbital and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, insula, inferior parietal cortex and thalamus predominantly on the right side, and cerebellum predominantly on the left side. In an exploratory analysis, guessing (run 1 minus run 2 of the active task) accompanied activation of sensory-motor associative areas, and amygdala on the left side, whereas informed decision-making (run 2 minus run 1) activated areas that subserve memory (hippocampus, posterior cingulate) and motor control (striatum, cerebellum). The findings provide a framework for future investigations of decision-making in maladaptive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)682-691
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002


  • Cognitive task
  • Guessing
  • Informed decision
  • Neuroimaging
  • Orbital frontal cortex
  • Punishment
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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