2.9
Impact Factor

SUPPLEMENTAL DATA

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 07 June 2010 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2010.00048

Striatal BOLD response reflects the impact of herd information on financial decisions

  • 1 Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • 2 Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Like other species, humans are sensitive to the decisions and actions of conspecifics, which can lead to herd behavior and undesirable outcomes such as stock market bubbles and bank runs. However, how the brain processes this socially derived influence is only poorly understood. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we scanned participants as they made decisions on whether to buy stocks after observing others’ buying decisions. We demonstrate that activity in the ventral striatum, an area heavily implicated in reward processing, tracked the degree of influence on participants’ decisions arising from the observation of other peoples’ decisions. The signal did not track non-human, non-social control decisions. These findings lend weight to the notion that the ventral striatum is involved in the processing of complex social aspects of decision making and identify a possible neural basis for herd behavior.

Keywords: herd behavior, decision making, neuroeconomics, ventral striatum, anterior cingulate, amygdala

Citation: Burke CJ, Tobler PN, Schultz W and Baddeley M (2010) Striatal BOLD response reflects the impact of herd information on financial decisions. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 4:48. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2010.00048

Received: 19 August 2009; Paper pending published: 22 January 2010;
Accepted: 16 May 2010; Published online: 07 June 2010

Edited by:

Tor Wager, Columbia University, USA

Reviewed by:

Mauricio R. Delgado, Rutgers University, USA
Karin Foerde, Columbia University in the City of New York, USA

Copyright: © 2010 Burke, Tobler, Schultz and Baddeley. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Christopher J. Burke, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK. e-mail: c.j.burke.03@cantab.net