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Electrophysiological Measurement of Emotion and Somatic State Affecting Ambiguity Decision: Evidences From SCRs, ERPs, and HR

Fuming Xu,
Published: 14 May 2020

Abstract: Twenty-three years ago, the Somatic Marker Hypothesis (SMH) proposed by Damasio was introduced to explain the role of emotion in decision-making, and provided a unique neuroanatomical framework for decision-making and its influence by emotion. The core idea of the SMH is that decision-making is a process that is affected by somatic state signals, including those that express themselves in emotion and feeling. In order to verify the SMH, the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) was originally designed by Bechara et al. and the skin conductance responses (SCRs) was recorded during the IGT. The initial confirmatory results showed that normal subjects would generate anticipatory SCRs when they received reward or punishment, but patients of the VMPFC lesion entirely failed to generate anticipatory SCRs prior to their selection of a card. With the further development of the SMH–related researches, other electrophysiological methods of measuring somatic state was gradually used to test the SMH, including event-related potentials (ERPs), and heart rate (HR). In this mini review article, we summarize the extant electrophysiological research on the SMH and decision-making under ambiguity, propose an integrative perspective for employing different electrophysiological measurement methods, and indicate the application of electrophysiological measurement based on the SMH in daily social decision-making.
Keywords: somatic marker hypothesis / Iowa Gambling Task / Skin conductance responses / Event-related potentials / Heart Rate

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