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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Brain maps of Iowa gambling task

Ching-Hung Lin123, Yao-Chu Chiu3*, Chou-Ming Cheng2 and Jen-Chuen Hsieh124*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Neuroscience, School of Life Science, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Laboratory of Integrated Brain Research, Department of Medical Research & Education, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

3 Department of Psychology, Soochow University, Taipei, Taiwan

4 Institute of Brain Science and Brain Research Center, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

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BMC Neuroscience 2008, 9:72  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-9-72

Published: 26 July 2008



Somatic Marker Hypothesis (SMH), based on clinical observations, delineates neuronal networks for interpreting consciousness generation and decision-making. The Iowa gambling task (IGT) was designed to verify the SMH. However, more and more behavioral and brain imaging studies had reported incongruent results that pinpointed a need to re-evaluate the central representations of SMH. The current study used event-related fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to examine neural correlates of anticipation vs. outcome, wins vs. losses, and differential decks' contingencies of IGT.


Behavioral results showed a prominent effect of frequency in driving choices. The insula and basal ganglia were activated during the anticipation phase while the inferior parietal lobule was activated during the outcome phase. The activation of medial prefrontal cortex was especially targeted during the high punishment contingencies. The data suggest that under uncertainty the normal decision makers can become myopic.


The insula and basal ganglia might play a vital role in long-term guidance of decision-making. Inferior parietal lobule might participate in evaluating the consequence and medial prefrontal cortex may service the function of error monitoring.