Model Skull

If you’re pondering whether to buy a Windows Phone or an iPhone this holiday season, (I am a Windows Guy), a part of the brain called the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex might  ultimately determine your choice. Results of a new study suggest that this region of the brain plays a critical role in making choices.

A New Brain Study by Avinash Vaidya and Dr. Lesley Fellows, researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), suggest that this region of the brain,  dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, plays a critical role in making choices.

Dr. Fellows stated recently “A big question is how and where value information is represented in the brain, and what goes into that representation.”  Dr. Fellows is  a neurologist and researcher in the expanding field of decision neuroscience. “Our research confirmed what savvy marketers already know: the longer you look at one of two objects, the more likely you’ll choose that object even if you initially valued the other one more. But we went further and identified a region of the frontal lobe that is crucially involved in this phenomenon.”

The study involved 60 participants, half of whom had suffered localized injury to the frontal lobes due to a stroke or tumor. Participants looked at hundreds of different pieces of art and rated their desire for each of them. This provided an estimate of the subjective value that each piece held. In a later test, the participants chose between pairs of these artworks. Participants were inclined to select the artwork that they examined longer even if in the earlier test they gave a higher value rating to the other object. Participants behaved as though the value of an option increased the longer it was observed.  Seeing is believing!

Participants with damage to a particular sector of the frontal lobe, the dorsomedial PFC, showed an exaggerated tendency to be drawn to the object at hand. The study shows that the dorsomedial PFC plays a critical role in mediating the balance between prior value assessment and an object’s immediate appeal.

So as you shop this Holiday, remember there is more to your choices than meets the eye.