The Neuroscience of Decision Making





From Plato’s chariot rider controlling the horse of passion and emotion, to Sigmund Freud’s instinctual id suppressed by the ego, there’s a historical tradition of juxtaposing emotion and reason as two dimensions of Human Decision Making. From a  neuroscience perspective we may deduce  that successful decision making depends on the rational frontal lobes in the prefrontal cortex controlling the basic emotional instincts in the deeper brain regions . But the truth is quite different—effective and successful decision making is not possible without the motivation and meaning provided by emotional input. Consider the case of Antonio Damasio’s a world leading neuroscientist’s patient, “Elliott.” Previously a successful businessman, Elliott underwent neurosurgery for a tumor and lost a part of his brain—the orbitofrontal cortex—that connects the frontal lobes with the emotions. He became a real life Mr. Spock, devoid of any feeling or emotion. But rather than this making him perfectly rational, he became stricken and paralyzed by every single decision in life. Damasio later developed the somatic marker hypothesis to describe how visceral emotion supports our decisions. For instance, he showed in a card game that people’s fingers sweat prior to picking up from a losing pile, even before they recognize at a conscious level that they’ve made a bad choice.Given below is an interesting presentation on the neuroscience of decision making that i do for corporate leaders and business school students:(This may take a few minutes to open as a pdf file) ..So hold your patience and emotions for a while…

The Neuroscience of Decision Making

Let’s train to become better decision makers through the better understanding of neuroscience!

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