Christian C. Ruff & Ernst Fehr
Nature Reviews Neuroscience (2014)
How does our brain choose the best course of action? Choices between material goods are thought to be steered by neural value signals that encode the rewarding properties of the choice options. Social decisions, by contrast, are traditionally thought to rely on neural representations of the self and others. However, recent studies show that many types of social decisions may also involve neural value computations. This suggests a unified mechanism for motivational control of behaviour that may incorporate both social and non-social factors. In this Review, we outline a theoretical framework that may help to identify possible overlaps and differences between the neural processes that guide social and non-social decision making.