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Differential neurobiological effects of expert advice on risky choice in adolescents and adults.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2012
Author Engelmann J.B., Moore S., Capra C. M., Berns G.S. ,
Project Vertrauen verstehen. Grundlagen, Formen und Grenzen des Vertrauens
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Volume (Issue) 7(5)
Page(s) 557 - 567
Title of proceedings Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
DOI 10.1093/scan/nss050

Open Access


We investigated behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms by which risk-averse advice, provided by an expert, affected risky decisions across three developmental groups [early adolescents (12–14 years), late adolescents (15–17 years), adults (18+ years)]. Using cumulative prospect theory, we modeled choice behavior during a risky-choice task. Results indicate that advice had a significantly greater impact on risky choice in both adolescent groups than in adults. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the neural correlates of this behavioral effect. Developmental effects on correlations between brain activity and valuation parameters were obtained in regions that can be classified into (i) cognitive control regions, such as dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and ventrolateral PFC; (ii) social cognition regions, such as posterior temporoparietal junction; and (iii) reward-related regions, such as ventromedial PFC (vmPFC) and ventral striatum. Within these regions, differential effects of advice on neural correlates of valuation were observed across development. Specifically, advice increased the correlation strength between brain activity and parameters reflective of safe choice options in adolescent DLPFC and decreased correlation strength between activity and parameters reflective of risky choice options in adult vmPFC. Taken together, results indicate that, across development, distinct brain systems involved in cognitive control and valuation mediate the risk-reducing effect of advice during decision making under risk via specific enhancements and reductions of the correlation strength between brain activity and valuation parameters.