Behavioral self-regulation is often based on decision making processes that involve risk and ambiguity. Further, risky decision making can depend on non-affective, deliberative processes (cold cognition), affective, automatic processes (hot cognition), or the interaction of these processes. The role of hot cognition is paradoxical in that affect sometimes appears to interfere with good decision making and sometimes seems to facilitate good decision making. Because of this, it is unclear whether in a given situation suboptimal decision making is due to insufficient or unutilized cold cognitive information, or due to inappropriately weighting of cold cognitive information along with hot cognitive information. The proposed research will examine when cold cognitive information is available and when it is properly used in risky decision making tasks in three specific aims. First, we will assess the fate of cold cognitive information and determine the impact on frame-induced decision making bias in a traditional risky decision making task with experimental challenges to hot and cold cognition. Second, we will assess the fate of cold cognitive information and determine the impact on frame-induced decision making in the newly developed Framed Gambling Task, which allows better analysis of risk and ambiguity, also with challenges to hot and cold cognition. Third, we assess the fate of cold cognitive information and determine the impact on frame-induced decision making in a sleep deprivation challenge. This research will help to identify factors that impede decision making processes necessary for good self-regulation. Extending the research from artificial laboratory challenges to a realistic sleep deprivation challenge will assist in designing interventions and environments to reduce the impact of suboptimal decision on safety, health and well-being in daily life.
The impact on decision making of the interaction of deliberative (cold) and automatic (hot) cognition is crucial but still poorly understood. Our research will explore when the cold cognitive information essential for good decision making is absent, and when it is improperly weighted in the decision making process because of challenges to cold or hot cognitive pathways. This work will allow us to better understand why sup-optimal decision making is occurring a particular situation and what can be done to improve decisions in these situations. In addition, our work represents an important extension from the laboratory to real-world conditions by exploring the impact of total sleep deprivation on these decision making processes, providing an opportunity to address broad health and safety issues relevant to sleep loss in everyday life.
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