Description: In the classic gain/loss framing effect, describing a gamble as a potential gain or loss biases people to make risk-averse or risk-seeking decisions, respectively. The canonical explanation for this effect is that frames differentially modulate emotional processes — which in turn leads to irrational choice behavior. Here, we evaluate the source of framing biases by integrating functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from 143 human participants performing a gain/loss framing task with meta-analytic data from over 8000 neuroimaging studies. We found that activation during choices consistent with the framing effect were most correlated with activation associated with the resting or default brain, while activation during choices inconsistent with the framing effect most correlated with the task-engaged brain. Our findings argue against the common interpretation of gain/loss framing as a competition between emotion and control. Instead, our study indicates that this effect results from differential cognitive engagement across decision frames.
Related article: http://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3486-16.2017
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