Skip to main content Accessibility help

Unconscious influences on decision making: Neuroimaging and neuroevolutionary perspectives

  • Samantha J. Brooks (a1) and Dan J. Stein (a1)


Newell and Shanks provide a useful critique on unconscious decision making. However, they do not consider an important set of functional brain imaging studies of unconscious processes. Here we review briefly the relevant brain imaging and psychobiological literature and its implications for understanding unconscious decision making.



Hide All
Alcaro, A. & Panksepp, J. (2011) The SEEKING mind: Primal neuro-affective substrates for appetitive incentive states and their pathological dynamics in addictions and depression. Neuroscience Biobehavioral Reviews 35:1805–20.
Brooks, S. J., Savov, V., Allzen, E., Benedict, C., Fredriksson, R. & Schioth, H. B. (2012) Exposure to subliminal arousing stimuli induces robust activation in the amygdala, hippocampus, anterior cingulate, insular cortex and primary visual cortex: A systematic meta-analysis of fMRI studies. NeuroImage 59:2962–73.
Carter, C. S. & van Veen, V. (2007) Anterior cingulate cortex and conflict detection: An update of theory and data. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience 7:367–79.
Costafreda, S. G., Brammer, M. J., David, A. S. & Fu, C. H. (2008) Predictors of amygdala activation during the processing of emotional stimuli: A meta-analysis of 385 PET and fMRI studies. Brain Research Reviews 58:5770.
Damasio, A. (2010) Self comes to mind: Constructing the conscious brain. Random House.
Garcia-Lazaro, H. G., Ramirez-Carmona, R., Lara-Romero, R., & Roldan-Valadez, E. (2012) Neuroanatomy of episodic and semantic memory in humans: A brief review of neuroimaging studies. Neurology India 60:613–17.
Le Doux, J. (1996) The emotional brain: The mysterious underpinnings of emotional life. Touchstone.
Meneguzzo, P., Tsakiris, M., Schiöth, H. B., & Stein, D. J. (under review) Subliminal versus supraliminal arousing stimuli indicate distinct neural activation in anterior cingulate, insular cortex and inferior parietal lobe.
Mobbs, D., Petrovic, P., Marchant, J. L., Hassabis, D., Weiskopf, N. Seymour, B., Dolan, R. J., & Frith, C. D. (2007) When fear is near: Threat imminence elicits prefrontal-periaqueductal gray shifts in humans. Science 317:1079–83.
Kahneman, D. (2011) Thinking, fast and slow. Allen Lane and Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Panksepp, J. (2005) Affective consciousness: Core emotional feelings in animals and humans. Consciousness and Cognition 14:3080.
Panksepp, J. (2011a) Cross-species affective neuroscience decoding of the primal affective experiences of humans and related animals. PLoS One 6:e21236.
Panksepp, J. (2011b) The basic emotional circuits of mammalian brains: Do animals have affective lives? Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 35:1791–804.
Stein, D. J. (1997) Cognitive science and the unconscious. American Psychiatric Press.
Stein, D. J., Solms, M. & van Honk, J. (2006) The cognitive–affective neuroscience of the unconscious. CNS Spectrums 11:580–83.
Ursu, S., Stenger, V. A., Shear, M. K., Jones, M. R. & Carter, C. S. (2003) Overactive action monitoring in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging. Psychological Science 14:347–53.
Weiner, K. S. & Grill-Spector, K. (2012) The improbable simplicity of the fusiform face area. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16:251–54.


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed