The Role of prefrontal cortex in purchasing decisions: an optical brain imaging study

Aşçı, Onur
In economic decisions, an agent has to determine the expected utility of each option. Decision making processes during purchasing are based on the evaluation of costs and benefits of the products. Past research shows that the prefrontal cortex region of the brain is activated while individuals evaluate the qualities and the prices of products in order to make purchasing decisions. The aim of this study is to use functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to investigate the activations in the prefrontal cortex and particularly in the medial prefrontal cortex during purchasing decisions. The participants were asked to state their purchasing preferences for a series of products based on their prices in a decision making task. Throughout the task, the oxygenation levels in different parts of the prefrontal cortex were measured via the fNIRS method. The participants also filled out surveys about their daily usage and price evaluation for each product. Participant decisions, fNIRS data and survey results were analyzed together to investigate the relationship between various aspects of purchasing preferences and prefrontal cortex activations. The results of the study revealed that there is a significant difference in the level of oxygenation of the prefrontal cortex areas between positive and negative purchasing decisions