Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Choosing a holiday. What were you thinking about?

Psychologists have great fun these days - and one hopes learn something - by attempting to link particular parts of the brain with certain thought processes. Psychologists at University College, London, looked into the links between decision-making and a part of the brain called the caudate nucleus, which is associated with rewards. They asked people to rate and choose between a variety of different holidays while their brains were being scanned. Even when two holidays were rated as being equally good people's preferred option - and the one they eventually chose - caused more activity in the caudate nucleus. A 1956 experiment (before women's lib presumably) which asked women to choose between different household appliances found that after chosing the women rated their preferred option higher and the rejected one lower. Similarly, in the modern experiment after a choice had been made the preferred option caused even more activity in the caudate nucleus and the rejected one less.

You can find out more about this research at


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