Although cognitive neuroscience has made remarkable progress in understanding the neural foundations of goal-directed behavior and decision making, neuroscience research on decision making competence, the capacity to resist biases in human judgment and decision making, remain to be established. Here, we investigated the cognitive and neural mechanisms of decision making competence in 283 healthy young adults. We administered the Adult Decision Making Competence battery to assess the respondent's capacity to resist standard biases in decision making, including: (1) resistance to framing, (2) recognizing social norms, (3) over/under confidence, (4) applying decision rules, (5) consistency in risk perception, and (6) resistance to sunk costs. Decision making competence was assessed in relation to core facets of intelligence, including measures of crystallized intelligence (Shipley Vocabulary), fluid intelligence (Figure Series), and logical reasoning (LSAT). Structural equation modeling was applied to examine the relationship(s) between each cognitive domain, followed by an investigation of their association with individual differences in cortical thickness, cortical surface area, and cortical gray matter volume as measured by high-resolution structural MRI. The results suggest that: (i) decision making competence is associated with cognitive operations for logical reasoning, and (ii) these convergent processes are associated with individual differences within cortical regions that are widely implicated in cognitive control (left dACC) and social decision making (right superior temporal sulcus; STS). Our findings motivate an integrative framework for understanding the neural mechanisms of decision making competence, suggesting that individual differences in the cortical surface area of left dACC and right STS are associated with the capacity to overcome decision biases and exhibit competence in decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-183
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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