Stimulus-preceding negativity represents a conservative response tendency

Takahiro Hirao, Timothy I. Murphy, Hiroaki Masaki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Humans tend to be conservative and typically will retain their initial decision even if an option to change is provided. We investigated whether the stimulus-preceding negativity (SPN), an event-related potential associated with the affective-motivational anticipation of feedback in gambling tasks, represents the strong response tendency to retain an initial decision. We compared SPNs in three different cardgambling tasks wherein the participants were given the opportunity to change their initial decision after they chose one of three cards. In two of these tasks, the winning probability was equiprobable (1/3 and 1/2, respectively) whether or not the participants changed their initial decision. However, in the Monty Hall dilemma task, changing the initial decision stochastically doubled the probability of winning (2/3) compared with retaining (1/3). In this counterintuitive probabilistic dilemma task, after the participant chose an option among three cards, a nonreward (losing) option is revealed. Then, the participants are offered a chance to change their mind and asked to make their final decision: to retain their initial choice or change to the alternate option. In all tasks, maintenance of previous behaviors was observed, although the rate of retaining earlier choices tended to be lower in the Monty Hall dilemma task than in the other two tasks. The SPNs were larger on retain trials than on change trials irrespective of task. These results suggest that underlying brain activities associated with the strong tendency to retain the initial decision can be observed by the SPN and thus it reflects expectancy of outcomes in terms of self-chosen behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-84
Number of pages5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Conservative response
  • Gambling task
  • Monty Hall dilemma
  • Stimulus-preceding negativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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