In the present study we provide the first empirical evidence that viscero-sensory feedback from an internal organ is associated with decision-making processes. Participants with accurate vs. poor perception of their heart activity were compared with regard to their performance in the Iowa Gambling Task. During this task, participants have to choose between four card decks. Decks A and B yield high gains and high losses, and if played continuously, result in net loss. In contrast, decks C and D yield small gains and also small losses, but result in net profit if they are selected continuously. Accordingly, participants have to learn to avoid the net loss options in favor of the net gain options. In our study, participants with good cardiac perception chose significantly more of the net gain and fewer of the net loss options. Our findings document the substantial role of visceral feedback in decision-making processes in complex situations.
Dit experiment is trouwens heel gelijkaardig aan een experiment dat Damasio zelf uitvoerde hierover (en waarop natuurlijk ook nogal wat kritiek is geformuleerd).
Een beetje achtergrondinfo over het belang van emoties, volgens Damasio:
uit: Descartes' error (Damasio)
... Elliott, who has sustained damage to the orbital part of his frontal lobes...
Elliott not only has a high IQ but scores well on tests that call for cognitive flexibility, such as card sorting and mental calculation tests. Yet he lacks the normal emotional responses to many situations. For example, he can describe driving on an icy road and not feel or express any fear about it. Also, he is a terrible decision maker. He can't hold a job for any length of time, and can't even decide which of several restaurants to eat at...
Elliott, being emotionally detached, should make wise, rational decisions. The truth is that since he lacks emotional investment in the possible outcome of a decision, he lacks a basis for deciding on one action over another...
Damasio concluded that effective decision ... it requires emotion. Damasio explains that emotions are very much tied up with the body. An emotion is typically a response to something that affects some part or all of the body, such as a perceived threat or a pleasant or unpleasant sensation. He says that we make decisions by means of what he calls somatic markers, which are bodily sensations ("gut feelings") arising from mentally imagining actions that one considers performing.