Damasio argues that affective reactions ordinarily guide and simplify decision making. Although originally intended to explain decision-making deficits in people with specific frontal lobe damage, the hypothesis also applies to decision-making problems in populations without brain injury. Subsequently, the gambling task was developed by Bechara (1994) as a diagnostic test of decision-making deficit in neurological populations. More recently, the gambling task has been used to explore implications of the somatic marker hypothesis, as well as to study suboptimal decision making in a variety of domains. Researchers examined relations among gambling task decision making, working memory (WM) load, and somatic markers in a modified version of the gambling task. Increased WM load produced by secondary tasks led to poorer gambling performance. Declines in gambling performance were associated with the absence of the affective reactions that anticipate choice outcomes and guide future decision making. Conclusions: the WM processes contribute to the development of somatic markers. If WM functioning is taxed, somatic markers may not develop, and decision making may thereby suffer. (Accessed 7-16. http://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/CABN.2.4.341)

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