Conceptual representations in goal-directed decision making.
Shea N., Krug K., Tobler PN.
Emerging evidence suggests that the long-established distinction between habit-based and goal-directed decision-making mechanisms can also be sustained in humans. Although the habit-based system has been extensively studied in humans, the goal-directed system is less well characterized. This review brings to that task the distinction between conceptual and nonconceptual representational mechanisms. Conceptual representations are structured out of semantic constituents (concepts)--the use of which requires an ability to perform some language-like syntactic processing. Decision making--as investigated by neuroscience and psychology--is normally studied in isolation from questions about concepts as studied in philosophy and cognitive psychology. We ask what role concepts play in the "goal-directed" decision-making system. We argue that one fruitful way of studying this system in humans is to investigate the extent to which it deploys conceptual representations.