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Where choices happen

Different decisions are made in different areas of the brain’s frontal lobes

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1:24pm, March 1, 2009

Making tough choices won’t get any easier, but scientists have discovered that different types of decisions are made in different areas of the brain’s frontal lobes. Abstract decisions are made toward the front of the lobes and concrete decisions are made toward the back, researchers report in a study published online March 1 in Nature Neuroscience. The find could help scientists understand the organization of the frontal lobes and processes like learning and reasoning, the researchers say.

Abstract decisions involve choosing between different categories of options, like deciding whether to send an e-mail or call on the phone instead. Concrete decisions involve translating thoughts into action, like deciding to hit a key to send the e-mail.

The brain’s frontal lobes, which sit behind the forehead, “allow us to use what we know about the world to guide our decision making,” says neuroscientist and study coauthor David Badre o

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