Fri Dec 2, 2016
5101 Tolman Hall, 11 AM–1 PM
|Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Amitai Shenhav (Brown University)
The costs of choice and the value of control
Abstract: Mechanisms for cognitive control and value-based decision-making have traditionally been studied by largely separate bodies of research, but recent work has increasingly sought to interrogate the intersection between these two. I will discuss a series of studies aimed at examining questions that arise at this intersection, beginning with two sets of studies that explore the cognitive effort costs we associate with the act of making a choice: one set of studies examines the neural circuits that drive simultaneously positive and aversive experiences of being offered multiple good options (e.g., great graduate schools to attend); the other set of studies explores the costs of considering alternatives to our default (i.e., prepotently biased) option or to our ongoing task. I will then describe a recent theoretical framework and ongoing modeling work that seeks to address another critical question at this intersection: how we weigh the costs and benefits of control itself; that is, how we determine how much and what kind of cognitive effort is worth exerting. In seeking to account for the key determinants of control allocation, this Expected Value of Control (EVC) framework aligns well with recent work on the topic of rational metareasoning and its application to the selection of cognitive strategies, while also offering a coherent account of the (much-debated) functional role of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex across research on evaluation, motivation, and cognitive control.