How can neurological processes influence decision-making?

Raffaella Gozzelino, Principal Investigator of the Inflammation and Neurodegeneration Lab, has shown some light on how neurological processes can explain decision-making, especially in stress situations, and particularly the influence of iron in this process, with her project "Stress-induced neuroinflammation: mechanisms and implications for decision-making and performance”.

From laboratory studies with rats, the researchers were able to conclude that when in situations of major stress, the animals presented an aggressive behaviour, developed biological markers, recording an accumulation of iron in their pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for behaviour and decision-making.

Raffaella explains to Observador that the main purpose now is to broaden the study to humans. “In humans, we know that social contexts play an important role in activating biological processes that favour the occurrence of stress and modulate performance” says the investigator. “We will investigate under physiological conditions how stress-induced biological markers and increased release of stress-hormones, along with psychological and social dimensions, regulate decision making and individuals’ performance.”. This research is fundamental for finding solutions that might decrease deviant behaviour and neurological diseases, for example through new and more efficient medication.

This project has earned the researcher the Santander Totta/Universidade NOVA de Lisboa Collaborative Research Award, alongside investigator Ana Ferreira, from Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas (FCSH-NOVA) and Pedro Neves, researcher from NOVA School of Business and Economics (NOVA SBE).

For more information on the project, please check the video below.

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