Flexible modulation of risk attitude during decision-making under quota

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Abstract

Risk attitude is often regarded as an intrinsic parameter in the individual personality. However, ethological studies reported state-dependent strategy optimization irrespective of individual preference. To synthesize the two contrasting literatures, we developed a novel gambling task that dynamically manipulated the quota severity (required outcome to clear the task) in a course of choice trials and conducted a task-fMRI study in human participants. The participants showed their individual risk preference when they had no quota constraint (‘individual-preference mode’), while they adopted state-dependent optimal strategy when they needed to achieve a quota (‘strategy-optimization mode’). fMRI analyses illustrated that the interplay among prefrontal areas and salience-network areas reflected the quota severity and the utilization of the optimal strategy, shedding light on the neural substrates of the quota-dependent risk attitude. Our results demonstrated the complex nature of risk-sensitive decision-making and may provide a new perspective for the understanding of problematic risky behaviors in human.

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