Nerve cell activity shows how confident individuals are

DN Bureau

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Bonn suggests that the activity of individual nerve cells in the brain tells us how confident we are in our decisions.

File Photo
File Photo

Washington A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Bonn suggests that the activity of individual nerve cells in the brain tells us how confident we are in our decisions.

The result is unexpected - the researchers were actually on the trail of a completely different evaluation mechanism. The results are published in the journal Current Biology.

Every day humans have to make decisions. Researchers at the University Hospital Bonn have now identified nerve cells in the brain whose activity indicates the confidence in decisions. A total of twelve men and women took part in their experiment.

"We showed them photos of two different snacks, for example a chocolate bar and a bag of chips. They were then asked to use a slider to indicate which of these alternatives they would rather eat," said Prof. Dr. Dr. Florian Mormann from the Department of Epileptology.

The more they moved the slider from its center position towards the left or right photo, the more confident they were in their decision.Participants had to judge a total of 190 different snack pairs in this way. At the same time, the scientists recorded the activity of 830 nerve cells each in the so-called temporal lobe.

"We discovered that the frequency of the electrical pulses in some neurons, in other words their 'firing rate', changed with increasing decision confidence," said Mormann's colleague Alexander Unruh-Pinheiro.








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