Electroencephalographic topography measures of experienced utility

Pedroni, Andreas; Langer, Nicolas; König, Thomas; Allemand, Michael; Jäncke, Lutz (2011). Electroencephalographic topography measures of experienced utility. Journal of neuroscience, 31(29), pp. 10474-10480. Washington, D.C.: Society for Neuroscience 10.1523/jneurosci.5488-10.2011

10474.full.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA).

Download (989kB) | Preview

Economic theory distinguishes two concepts of utility: decision utility, objectively quantifiable by choices, and experienced utility, referring to the satisfaction by an obtainment. To date, experienced utility is typically measured with subjective ratings. This study intended to quantify experienced utility by global levels of neuronal activity. Neuronal activity was measured by means of electroencephalographic (EEG) responses to gain and omission of graded monetary rewards at the level of the EEG topography in human subjects. A novel analysis approach allowed approximating psychophysiological value functions for the experienced utility of monetary rewards. In addition, we identified the time windows of the event-related potentials (ERP) and the respective intracortical sources, in which variations in neuronal activity were significantly related to the value or valence of outcomes. Results indicate that value functions of experienced utility and regret disproportionally increase with monetary value, and thus contradict the compressing value functions of decision utility. The temporal pattern of outcome evaluation suggests an initial (∼250 ms) coarse evaluation regarding the valence, concurrent with a finer-grained evaluation of the value of gained rewards, whereas the evaluation of the value of omitted rewards emerges later. We hypothesize that this temporal double dissociation is explained by reward prediction errors. Finally, a late, yet unreported, reward-sensitive ERP topography (∼500 ms) was identified. The sources of these topographical covariations are estimated in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the medial frontal gyrus, the anterior and posterior cingulate cortex and the hippocampus/amygdala. The results provide important new evidence regarding “how,” “when,” and “where” the brain evaluates outcomes with different hedonic impact.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Psychiatric Neurophysiology [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

König, Thomas




Society for Neuroscience




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:22

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:06

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:





https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/7687 (FactScience: 213004)

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback