Brain activities associated with learning of the Monty Hall Dilemma task

Takahiro Hirao, Timothy I. Murphy, Hiroaki Masaki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The Monty Hall Dilemma (MHD) poses a counterintuitive probabilistic problem to the players of this game. In the MHD task, a participant chooses one of three options where only one contains a reward. After one of the unchosen options (always no reward) is disclosed, the participant is asked to make a final decision: either change to the remaining option or stick with their first choice. Although the probability of winning if they change is higher (2/3) compared to sticking with their first choice (1/3), most people stick with their original selection and often lose. In accordance with previous research, repetitive exposure to the MHD task increases the change behavior without any obvious understanding of the mathematical reasons why changing increases their chance of being rewarded. We recorded the stimulus-preceding negativity (SPN), an ERP that might reflect the informative value of the feedback. In the second half of the task, feedback was predicted to be less informative because learning had taken place. Indeed, the SPN amplitude became smaller over the frontal region. Also, the SPN amplitude was larger for change than for stick trials. These results suggest that learning in the MHD might be manifest in affective-motivational anticipation as indicated by the SPN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1359-1369
Number of pages11
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sept


  • Monty Hall Dilemma
  • affective-motivational process
  • counterintuitive
  • stimulus-preceding negativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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