Examining neuroanatomical correlates of switch behaviour

  • Matthew Westerman

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


In a binary choice task, switching refers to whether an individual will switch from a previously selected option to the alternative option. Previous research within the field of decision making has shown that the outcome of a previous decision may heavily affect future decision-making strategies. Building on previous research investigating switching behaviour (Sun et al., 2018), the current study investigated the relationship rewards and punishments have on subsequent decision-making strategies within a switching task. Moreover, the current study utilised VBM (Voxel-Based Morphometry) to identify the neuroanatomical correlates of switching behaviour on a large cohort of healthy individuals (N = 851) taken from the Human Connectome Project. Switching was measured using an adapted reward paradigm, originally developed by (Delgado et al., 2000), whereby an individual was asked to choose whether a card was higher or lower than 5 on each trial. The results indicate increased frequency of switches after punishment which correlated negatively with grey matter volumes within the Left Superior Temporal Gyrus, Left Lingual Gyrus, Left Superior Occipital Gyrus, Right Insula, Right Medial Temporal Gyrus and left Parahippocampal Gyrus. No morphometric correlates were identified in relation to switches after rewards. Furthermore, comparing our results with 14371 fMRI studies on Neurosynth, meta-analytic co-activation revealed correlations amongst the areas identified within the structural analysis, ultimately showing increased involvement of the Insula. These findings indicate the outcome of a previous trial may directly influence the decision to switch, highlighting the potential of this study to further improve our understanding of the relationship between individual differences in both brain structure and decision making on healthy individuals.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGlyn Hallam (Co-Supervisor) & Chris Retzler (Co-Supervisor)

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