Neural mechanisms of risky decision making in monetary gain and loss situations

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Fei He
Hao Guan
Zhijing Zhao
Rong Cao
Cite this article:  He, F., Guan, H., Zhao, Z., & Cao, R. (2013). Neural mechanisms of risky decision making in monetary gain and loss situations. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 41(10), 1725-1736.


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Our aim was to investigate the cognitive neural basis, the behavioral characteristics, and the cognitive process of decision making with a group of 30 healthy Chinese adults. Two conditions with tasks drawn from prospect theory allowed us to examine how different risky decisions and related behaviors activate specific brain regions. Participants completed 2 decision tasks in which the amount of possible monetary gain and loss differed. Event-related potentials recorded for analysis during these tasks involved the N2 and P3 components. Participants’ behaviors showed risk aversion in the monetary gain condition and risk seeking in the loss condition. Reaction time for risk-seeking decisions in a loss condition was significantly slower than for the same decision in a gain condition. The reactions to uncertainty shared a general neural network, but reactions were activated with different intensities in certain brain regions.

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