Researchers have found that your feelings about something and the value you put on it are calculated similarly in a specific area of the brain. The researchers who are from Duke University study how the brain values things-a field called neuroeconomics.
The region is small area right between the eyes at the front of the brain. It's called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, or vmPFC for short.
Scott Huettel, director of Duke's Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Science, said scientists studying emotion and neuroeconomics had independently singled out this area of the brain in their research but neither group recognized that the other's research was focused on it too.
Now, after a series of experiments in which subjects were asked to modify how they felt about something either positively or negatively, the Duke group is arguing that emotional and economic calculations are more closely related than brain scientists had realized.
"The neuroscience fits with your intuitive understanding," Amy Winecoff, a graduate student in psychology and neuroscience who led the research, said.
"Emotions appear to be relying on the same value system," she said.
The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.