Neural correlates of uncertain decision making: ERP evidence from the Iowa Gambling Task

J.-F. Cui, Y.-H. Chen, Y. Wang, Ho Keung David Shum, R.C.K. Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


In our daily life, it is very common to make decisions in uncertain situations. The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) has been widely used in laboratory studies because of its good simulation of uncertainty in real life activities. The present study aimed to examine the neural correlates of uncertain decision making with the IGT. Twenty-six university students completed this study. An adapted IGT was administered to them, and the EEG data were recorded. The adapted IGT we used allowed us to analyze the choice evaluation, response selection, and feedback evaluation stages of uncertain decision making within the same paradigm. In the choice evaluation stage, the advantageous decks evoked larger P3 amplitude in the left hemisphere, while the disadvantageous decks evoked larger P3 in the right hemisphere. In the response selection stage, the response of "pass" (the card was not turned over; the participants neither won nor lost money) evoked larger negativity preceding the response compared to that of "play" (the card was turned over; the participant either won or lost money). In the feedback evaluation stage, feedback-related negativity (FRN) was only sensitive to the valence (win/loss) but not the magnitude (large/small) of the outcome, and P3 was sensitive to both the valence and the magnitude of the outcome. These results were consistent with the notion that a positive somatic state was represented in the left hemisphere and a negative somatic state was represented in the right hemisphere. There were also anticipatory ERP effects that guided the participants' responses and provided evidence for the somatic marker hypothesis with more precise timing. © 2013 Cui, Chen, Wang, Shum and Chan.
Original languageEnglish
Article number776
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotion
  • ERP
  • Iowa Gambling Task
  • Somatic marker hypothesis
  • Uncertain decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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