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Components of the Neural Valuation Network of Monetary Rewards
Kanayet, Frank Joseph

2012, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, Psychology.
When faced with a decision between goods with incommensurable values, the chooser needs to rescale the valuation assigned to each good in a common mental currency. Recently, the emerging field of neuroeconomics has started to untangle the brain networks that are responsible for these computations. The intra parietal sulcus (IPS) has been found to be among the major brain regions that play a critical role in the valuation of monetary rewards. However, processing values in a monetary currency is likely to be subject to cognitive constraints that can distort the valuation process. Specifically, processing monetary value is inherently constrained by our cognitive ability to process magnitude information. Because magnitudes like luminance, size or number have compressive psychophysical functions, the subjective distance between stimuli decreases as objective magnitude increases. This implies that the subjective economic value of goods is susceptible to linear transformations in the magnitude of the numbers used to represent monetary value. Thus, manipulating the currency (e.g. dollars vs. cents), the valence of rewards (e.g. gains vs. losses), or the starting point (e.g. giving vs. endowment) might affect how the brain processes the value of monetary rewards. To test this theory I conducted two fMRI studies designed to test if linear transformations of numeric magnitude affect the brain’s processing of monetary rewards. In particular, because IPS is critical in the processing of numeric information, I hypothesized that IPS would react to the numeric magnitude of the monetary rewards, regardless of the objective monetary value. In study 1, I manipulated the numeric magnitude, currency (dollars or cents) and valence (gains or losses) to construct a range of economic rewards. In study 2, I also included a manipulation of starting point by providing participants with an initial endowment. Consistent with the hypotheses of this thesis, BOLD activity in IPS was related to changes in numeric magnitude, independent of the objective monetary value. Also, manipulating the starting point led to changes in the sensitivity to gains and losses in IPS, striatum and insula -- all major areas of the reward valuation network. Finally, by using representation similarity analysis, I showed that the information represented in IPS is more consistent with the expected patterns of information associated with processing numeric magnitude, than the patterns of information expected for monetary value. Together, these findings show the importance of considering the cognitive properties of numeric information processing for the valuation of monetary rewards.
John Opfer (Advisor)
William Cunningham (Committee Member)
Per Sederberg (Committee Member)
116 p.

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Kanayet, F. (2012). Components of the Neural Valuation Network of Monetary Rewards. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from

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Kanayet, Frank. "Components of the Neural Valuation Network of Monetary Rewards." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2012. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 23 Oct 2018.

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Kanayet, Frank "Components of the Neural Valuation Network of Monetary Rewards." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2012.


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