Common sense in choice: The effect of sensory modality on neural value representations

Anastasia Shuster, Dino J. Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although it is well established that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) represents value using a common currency across categories of rewards, it is unknown whether the vmPFC represents value irrespective of the sensory modality in which alternatives are presented. In the current study, male and female human subjects completed a decision-making task while their neural activity was recorded using functional magnetic resonance imaging. On each trial, subjects chose between a safe alternative and a lottery, which was presented visually or aurally. A univariate conjunction analysis revealed that the anterior portion of the vmPFC tracks subjective value (SV) irrespective of the sensory modality. Using a novel cross-modality multivariate classifier, we were able to decode auditory value based on visual trials and vice versa. In addition, we found that the visual and auditory sensory cortices, which were identified using functional localizers, are also sensitive to the value of stimuli, albeit in a modality-specific manner. Whereas both primary and higher-order auditory cortices represented auditory SV (aSV), only a higher-order visual area represented visual SV (vSV). These findings expand our understanding of the common currency network of the brain and shed a new light on the interplay between sensory and value information processing.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0346-17.2018
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Decision making
  • Sensory systems
  • Value
  • fMRI


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