The goal of the proposed research is to understand and develop successful means of behavior change that could assist in treatment compliance broadly for a range of health problems, as well as specific treatments for disorders characterized by poor choices, such as obesity and addiction. To achieve this goal, we will combine techniques and insights from neuroeconomics and affective neuroscience. Specifically, we will use behavioral economic paradigms and models to isolate and quantify specific individual factors that influence decisions, including the rate at which future rewards are discounted in value and the relative sensitivity to loss or risk when assessing value. We will link these specific decision variables to specific components of emotion that may contribute to the value computation, such as the arousal response to a loss or gain. We will then build on recent advances in affective neuroscience examining means to change emotion -- including cognitive emotion regulation techniques and pharmacological manipulations - to explore how these impact the different decision variables. Finally, we will examine how another common emotional response known to impact health decisions, namely stress, alters both the specific decision variables and the effectiveness of the proposed techniques used to alter emotional responses and choice behavior.
It is not uncommon for individuals to make decisions that can be detrimental to their health and well-being, such as in obesity and addiction. The proposed research will combine insights from the science of decision making and emotion to develop new means to encourage behavior change.
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