Perception Action Cognition Occasional Talks

Stopping Information Search: An fMRI Investigation

Information search has become an increasingly important factor in people's use of information systems. In both personal and workplace environments, advances in information technology and the availability of information have enabled people to perform far more search and access much more information for decision making than in the very recent past. One consequence of this abundance of information has been an increasing need for people to develop better heuristic methods for stopping search, since information available for most decisions now overwhelms people's cognitive processing capabilities and in some cases is almost infinite. Information search has been studied in much past research, and cognitive stopping rules have also been investigated. The present research extends and expands on previous behavioral research by investigating brain activation during searching and stopping behavior using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) techniques. We asked subjects to search for information about consumer products and to stop when they believed they had enough information to make a subsequent decision about whether to purchase that product. They performed these tasks while in an MRI machine. Brain scans were taken that measured brain activity throughout task performance. Results showed that different areas of the brain were active for searching and stopping, that different brain regions were used for several different self-reported stopping rules, that stopping is a neural correlate of inhibition, suggesting a generalized stopping mechanism in the brain, and that certain individual difference variables make no difference in brain regions active for stopping. The findings extend our knowledge of information search, stopping behavior, and inhibition, contributing to both the information systems and neuroscience literatures. Implications of our findings for theory and practice are discussed. LOCATION: Level 5 Seminar Room, 58 Hillhead Street TIME: 12 noon