Tapping into How the Brain Perceives Values can Influence Choices

Researchers have been able to tap into the decision-making processes in the brain to play with our sense of value.

Tapping into How the Brain Perceives Values can Influence Choices
Image: Pixabay

The human brain has two halves, left and right. Various studies suggest that our brain deals with different magnitudes like time, numbers etc in a different way. Its depend on halves, left halve works on larger magnitudes while right halve process smaller magnitudes.

A new study suggests, choices based on values for example financial decisions, relies on the interaction of these two halves. Even, depending on how the brain perceives values or magnitudes, it can even affect the act of decision-making, by changing the thought of what things are worth.

Dr. Qadeer Arshad, an honorary lecturer at Imperial said, “It showed that they could “influence decision-making by interfering with how the brain works.”

Tapping into How the Brain Perceives Values can Influence Choices
Choices based on values are dependent upon how the two halves of the brain interact
Image: Helmut Januschka

“The study could tell us how people make decisions. It could also help to better understand conditions in which the communication between the hemispheres is disrupted, affecting how signals from the body or even outside are perceived.”

Generally, one side of the brain is more dominant. It can be unveiled by a slight inclination towards bigger or little numbers. The left hemisphere of the brain is likely to have a bias for larger numbers, thus picks larger numbers. On the other side, right hemisphere picks lower numbers.

Scientists conducted two different studies. During the 1st study, scientists asked participants to pick the midpoint between two random numbers without giving enough time to calculate. They then accessed their performance via a standard decision-making test called the ‘dictator game’. In this setup, people are offered a sum of money (£5) and told they have to share it with a stranger.

Dr. Arshad noted, “People who were biased towards lower numbers were less generous. They made less favorable economic decisions towards the stranger, during the task. Those biased towards larger numbers tended to give more money to the stranger.”

During the 2nd study, scientists skewed the direction of decision-making. They found that dribbling water into a member’s ear and all the while seeing a visual jolt made the halves of the globe contend, prompting one side of the mind being restrained – relying upon which ear it was connected to.

Doing this, scientists were able to distort participants towards either smaller or larger number by assuming their choices while decision-making. Pushing them towards smaller number leads to a more selfish split. If pushing the same volunteer to larger split, they brought about a superior result for the strangers.

Dr. Arshad said, “The surprising thing is that we could override what they were actually told. At all times they had the same £5, but their brains seemed to ignore that completely and went with how they processed that value.”

“In the same person, the £5 was made to appear as £6 or £4, and we were able to alter their corresponding decisions, but at all times, they thought they were making the same economic decisions.”

These discoveries were supported by a moment set of trials including patients with Parkinson’s infection. Scientists repeated the tests and found that those with more damage to the right-hemisphere were more biased towards larger numbers. Such volunteers were more likely to make more generous decisions during the decision-making.

Dr. Arshad noted, “This made us better understand a person neuroscientifically, to see how they make their decisions. It could open up avenues towards treating certain conditions, such as chronic dizziness and pain.”

“These are essentially perceptual disorders, based on how you perceive stimuli. In theory, if we could alter how the brain constructs perceptions, we might be able to alter people’s interpretation and behavior.”