Human decisions cannot be explained solely by rational imperatives but are strongly influenced by emotion. Theoretical and behavioral studies provide a sound empirical basis to the impact of the emotion of regret in guiding choice behavior. Recent neuropsychological and neuroimaging data have stressed the fundamental role of the orbitofrontal cortex in mediating the experience of regret. Functional magnetic resonance imaging data indicate that reactivation of activity within the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala occurring during the phase of choice, when the brain is anticipating possible future consequences of decisions, characterizes the anticipation of regret. In turn, these patterns reflect learning based on cumulative emotional experience. Moreover, affective consequences can induce specific mechanisms of cognitive control of the choice processes, involving reinforcement or avoidance of the experienced behavior.
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