Cells, circuits, and choices: social influences on perceptual decision making.
Mojzisch A., Krug K.
Making decisions is an integral part of everyday life. Social psychologists have demonstrated in many studies that humans' decisions are frequently and strongly influenced by the opinions of others--even in simple perceptual decisions, where, for example, participants have to judge what an image looks like. However, because the effect of other people's opinions on decision making has remained largely unaddressed by the neuroimaging and neurophysiology literature, we are only beginning to understand how social influence is integrated into the decision-making process. We put forward the thesis that by probing the neurophysiology of social influence with perceptual decision-making tasks similar to those used in the seminal work of Asch (1952, 1956), this gap could be remedied. Perceptual paradigms are already widely used to probe neuronal mechanisms of decision making in nonhuman primates. There is also increasing evidence about how nonhuman primates' behavior is influenced by observing conspecifics. The high spatial and temporal resolution of neurophysiological recordings in awake monkeys could provide insight into where and how social influence modulates decision making, and thus should enable us to develop detailed functional models of the neural mechanisms that support the integration of social influence into the decision-making process.