Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Jennifer Swart (Donders series 359)

29 March 2019

Promotors: prof. dr. R. Cools, dr. M. Frank
Co-promotor:dr. H. den Ouden

To go or not to go? On motivational biases in decision-making

When asking ’What makes us humans unique?’ people often think of qualities like the ability to reason and to make well considered choices. Yet, in reality we do not compute all our choices like computers. That would not work! Therefore we often rely on simple heuristics that are not completely rational. New research from Jennifer Swart shows that even learning from experience can be susceptible to such heuristics. Some actions are easier learned that others, because they are more in line with your view of how the world works. It is easier to learn to take action for example than to learn to hold back when you know your behaviour leads to pleasant outcomes. These irrational learning processes appear to rely on the same primitive brain regions as the simple heuristics. More developed brain regions can help to deviate from the irrational behaviour when necessary.