An optimal balance between efficient exploitation of available resources and creative exploration of alternatives is critical for adaptation and survival. Previous studies associated these behavioral drives with, respectively, the dopaminergic mesocorticolimbic system and frontopolar-intraparietal networks. We study the activation of these systems in two age and gender-matched groups of experienced decision-makers differing in prior professional background, with the aim to understand the neural bases of individual differences in decision-making efficiency (performance divided by response time). We compare brain activity of entrepreneurs (who currently manage the organization they founded based on their venture idea) and managers (who are constantly involved in making strategic decisions but have no venture experience) engaged in a gambling-task assessing exploitative vs. explorative decision-making. Compared with managers, entrepreneurs showed higher decision-making efficiency, and a stronger activation in regions of frontopolar cortex (FPC) previously associated with explorative choice. Moreover, activity across a network of regions previously linked to explore/exploit tradeoffs explained individual differences in choice efficiency. These results suggest new avenues for the study of individual differences in the neural antecedents of efficient decision-making.
Keywords: decision-making, efficiency, exploration-exploitation, fMRI, frontopolar cortex
Citation: Laureiro-Martínez D, Canessa N, Brusoni S, Zollo M, Hare T, Alemanno F and Cappa SF (2014) Frontopolar cortex and decision-making efficiency: comparing brain activity of experts with different professional background during an exploration-exploitation task. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7:927. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00927
Received: 10 September 2013; Accepted: 19 December 2013;
Published online: 22 January 2014.
Edited by:John J. Foxe, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, USA
Reviewed by:Marzia De Lucia, Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland
Copyright © 2014 Laureiro-Martínez, Canessa, Brusoni, Zollo, Hare, Alemanno and Cappa. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Stefano F. Cappa, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience & CERMAC, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, DIBIT-Via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milan, Italy e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org