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Every day, humans make countless decisions that require the integration of information about potential benefits (i.e. rewards) with other decision features (i.e. effort required, probability of an outcome or time delays). Here, we examine the overlap and dissociation of behavioral preferences and neural representations of subjective value in the context of three different decision features (physical effort, probability and time delays) in a healthy adult life span sample. While undergoing functional neuroimaging, participants (N = 75) made incentive compatible choices between a smaller monetary reward with lower physical effort, higher probability, or a shorter time delay versus a larger monetary reward with higher physical effort, lower probability, or a longer time delay. Behavioral preferences were estimated from observed choices, and subjective values were computed using individual hyperbolic discount functions. We found that discount rates were uncorrelated across tasks. Despite this apparent behavioral dissociation between preferences, we found overlapping subjective value-related activity in the medial prefrontal cortex across all three tasks. We found no consistent evidence for age differences in either preferences or the neural representations of subjective value across adulthood. These results suggest that while the tolerance of decision features is behaviorally dissociable, subjective value signals share a common representation across adulthood.
This commentary was written as a collaboration between the Board of the Metastasis Research Society and two patients with metastatic breast cancer. It was conceived in response to how preclinical scientific research is sometimes presented to non-scientists in a way that can cause stress and confusion. Translation of preclinical findings to the clinic requires overcoming multiple barriers. This is irrespective of whether the findings relate to exciting responses to new therapies or problematic effects of currently used therapies. It is important that these barriers are understood and acknowledged when research findings are summarized for mainstream reporting. To minimize confusion, patients should continue to rely on their oncology care team to help them interpret whether research findings presented in mainstream media have relevance for their individual care. Researchers, both bench and clinical, should work together where possible to increase options for patients with metastatic disease, which is still in desperate need of effective therapeutic approaches.
Many animal models of disease are suboptimal in their representation of human diseases and lack of predictive power in the success of pivotal human trials. In the context of repurposing drugs with known human safety, it is sometimes appropriate to conduct the "last experiment first," that is, progressing directly to human investigations. However, there are not accepted criteria for when to proceed straight to humans to test a new indication. We propose a specific set of criteria to guide the decision-making around when to initiate human proof of principle without preclinical efficacy studies in animal models. This approach could accelerate the transition of novel therapeutic approaches to human applications.
Cognitive models aim to explain complex human behavior in terms of hypothesized mechanisms of the mind. These mechanisms can be formalized in terms of mathematical structures containing parameters that are theoretically meaningful. For example, in the case of perceptual decision making, model parameters might correspond to theoretical constructs like response bias, evidence quality, response caution, and the like. Formal cognitive models go beyond verbal models in that cognitive mechanisms are instantiated in terms of mathematics and they go beyond statistical models in that cognitive model parameters are psychologically interpretable. We explore three key elements used to formally evaluate cognitive models: parameter estimation, model prediction, and model selection. We compare and contrast traditional approaches with Bayesian statistical approaches to performing each of these three elements. Traditional approaches rely on an array of seemingly ad hoc techniques, whereas Bayesian statistical approaches rely on a single, principled, internally consistent system. We illustrate the Bayesian statistical approach to evaluating cognitive models using a running example of the Linear Ballistic Accumulator model of decision making (Brown SD, Heathcote A. The simplest complete model of choice response time: linear ballistic accumulation. Cogn Psychol 2008, 57:153-178). WIREs Cogn Sci 2018, 9:e1458. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1458 This article is categorized under: Neuroscience > Computation Psychology > Reasoning and Decision Making Psychology > Theory and Methods.
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES - Prognostic uncertainty is one barrier that impedes providers in engaging patients with CKD in shared decision making and advance care planning. The surprise question has been shown to identify patients at increased risk of dying.
DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS, & MEASUREMENTS - In our prospective observational study, 488 patients ≥60 years of age with CKD stage 4 or 5 were enrolled. Binary surprise question (, "Would you be surprised if this patient died in the next 12 months?") responses were recorded, and dialysis planning preferences, presence of advance care planning documentation, and care preceding death were abstracted.
RESULTS - The median patient age was 71 (65-77) years old. Providers responded no and yes to the surprise question for 171 (35%) and 317 (65%) patients, respectively. Median follow-up was 1.9 (1.5-2.1) years, during which 18% of patients died (33% of surprise question no, 10% of surprise question yes; <0.001). In patients with a known RRT preference (58%), 13% of surprise question no participants had a preference for conservative management (versus 2% of yes counterparts; <0.001). A medical order (, physician order for life-sustaining treatment) was documented in 13% of surprise question no patients versus 5% of yes patients (=0.004). Among surprise question no decedents, 41% died at home or hospice, 38% used hospice services, and 54% were hospitalized in the month before death. In surprise question yes decedents, 39% died at home or hospice (=0.90 versus no), 26% used hospice services (=0.50 versus no), and 67% were hospitalized in the month before death (=0.40 versus surprise question no).
CONCLUSIONS - Nephrologists' prognostic perceptions were associated with modest changes in care, highlighting a critical gap in conservative management discussions, advance care planning, and end of life care among older adults with CKD stages 4 and 5 and high-risk clinical characteristics.
PODCAST - This article contains a podcast at https://www.asn-online.org/media/podcast/CJASN/2017_09_18_CJASNPodcast_17_11.mp3.
Copyright © 2017 by the American Society of Nephrology.
OBJECTIVE - This study examined the meaning of sickle cell trait and sickle cell trait screening from the lay perspective of African Americans.
DESIGN AND METHODS - African Americans (N = 300), ages 18-35 and unaware of their sickle cell trait status, completed two open-ended questions from a larger survey. One question asked for their understanding of sickle cell trait; the other asked for their understanding of sickle cell trait screening. Content analysis occurred in two phases: (1) In vivo and holistic coding; and (2) focused coding.
RESULTS - Four categories emerged illustrating lay conceptions of sickle cell trait; (1) Perceived as an illness; (2) Perceived recognition of the inheritance pattern of sickle cell trait; (3) Perceived lack of knowledge of sickle cell trait; and (4) Perceived importance of sickle cell trait. Five categories emerged illustrating lay conceptions for sickle cell trait screening: (1) Perceived recognition that screening means getting tested for sickle cell trait; (2) Perceived lack of knowledge of sickle cell trait screening; (3) Perceived health benefit of sickle cell trait screening; (4) Perceived importance of sickle cell trait screening; and (5) Perceived barriers to sickle cell trait screening.
CONCLUSIONS - Sickle cell trait and sickle cell trait screening are concepts that are both regarded as important among this high-risk population. However, there is still misunderstanding concerning the hereditary nature and reproductive implications of sickle cell trait. Interventions seeking to improve communication on the need for sickle cell trait screening should begin by identifying what the population at large understands, knows and/or believes to improve their ability to make informed health decisions.
The treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma has posed a challenge for decades, in part because of common themes related to intrinsic resistance to cytotoxic chemotherapy and the obscure biology of these cancer types. Forward movement in the treatment of the renal cell carcinomas thus can be approached in 2 ways: by splitting the tumor types along histologic and molecular features, in the hopes of coupling highly precision-focused therapy on a subset of patients who have disease with the most potential for benefit; or by lumping the various biologies and histologies together, to include the rarer renal cell carcinoma types with the more common types. The former strategy satisfies the desire for customized precision in treatment delivery, whereas the latter strategy allows clinicians to offer a wider therapeutic menu in a set of diseases we are continuing to learn about on a physiologic and molecular level. Cancer 2017;123:200-209. © 2016 American Cancer Society.
© 2016 American Cancer Society.
Although research on aging and decision making continues to grow, the majority of studies examine decisions made to maximize monetary earnings or points. It is not clear whether these results generalize to other types of rewards. To investigate this, we examined adult age differences in 92 healthy participants aged 22 to 83. Participants completed 9 hypothetical discounting tasks, which included 3 types of discounting factors (time, probability, effort) across 3 reward domains (monetary, social, health). Participants made choices between a smaller magnitude reward with a shorter time delay/higher probability/lower level of physical effort required and a larger magnitude reward with a longer time delay/lower probability/higher level of physical effort required. Older compared with younger individuals were more likely to choose options that involved shorter time delays or higher probabilities of experiencing an interaction with a close social partner or receiving health benefits from a hypothetical drug. These findings suggest that older adults may be more motivated than young adults to obtain social and health rewards immediately and with certainty. (PsycINFO Database Record
(c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved).
Although studies suggest that patients with limited health literacy and/or low numeracy skills may stand to gain the most from shared decision making (SDM), the impact of these conditions on the effective implementation of SDM in the emergency department (ED) is not well understood. In this article from the proceedings of the 2016 Academic Emergency Medicine Consensus Conference on Shared Decision Making in the Emergency Department we discuss knowledge gaps identified and propose consensus-driven research priorities to help guide future work to improve SDM for this patient population in the ED.
© 2016 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.
UNLABELLED - The evolved capacity for third-party punishment is considered crucial to the emergence and maintenance of elaborate human social organization and is central to the modern provision of fairness and justice within society. Although it is well established that the mental state of the offender and the severity of the harm he caused are the two primary predictors of punishment decisions, the precise cognitive and brain mechanisms by which these distinct components are evaluated and integrated into a punishment decision are poorly understood. Using fMRI, here we implement a novel experimental design to functionally dissociate the mechanisms underlying evaluation, integration, and decision that were conflated in previous studies of third-party punishment. Behaviorally, the punishment decision is primarily defined by a superadditive interaction between harm and mental state, with subjects weighing the interaction factor more than the single factors of harm and mental state. On a neural level, evaluation of harms engaged brain areas associated with affective and somatosensory processing, whereas mental state evaluation primarily recruited circuitry involved in mentalization. Harm and mental state evaluations are integrated in medial prefrontal and posterior cingulate structures, with the amygdala acting as a pivotal hub of the interaction between harm and mental state. This integrated information is used by the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex at the time of the decision to assign an appropriate punishment through a distributed coding system. Together, these findings provide a blueprint of the brain mechanisms by which neutral third parties render punishment decisions.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT - Punishment undergirds large-scale cooperation and helps dispense criminal justice. Yet it is currently unknown precisely how people assess the mental states of offenders, evaluate the harms they caused, and integrate those two components into a single punishment decision. Using a new design, we isolated these three processes, identifying the distinct brain systems and activities that enable each. Additional findings suggest that the amygdala plays a crucial role in mediating the interaction of mental state and harm information, whereas the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex plays a crucial, final-stage role, both in integrating mental state and harm information and in selecting a suitable punishment amount. These findings deepen our understanding of how punishment decisions are made, which may someday help to improve them.
Copyright © 2016 Ginther et al.