Stopping information search: An fMRI investigation

Glenn J. Browne, Eric A. Walden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Facilitating information search to support decision making is one of the core purposes of information technology. In both personal and workplace environments, advances in information technology and the availability of information have enabled people to perform much more search and access much more information for decision making than ever before. Because of this abundance of information, there is an increasing need to develop an improved understanding of how people stop search, since information available for most decisions is now almost infinite. Our goal in this paper is to further our understanding of information search and stopping, and we do so by examining the neurocorrelates of stopping information search. This is a process that involves both stopping the search and the decision to stop the search. 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 those products while in a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) chamber. Brain activation patterns revealed an extensive distributed network of areas that are engaged in the decision to stop searching for information that are not engaged in search itself, suggesting that stopping is a complex and cognitively demanding neurological activity. Implications for theory, particularly information overconsumption, and for IT design are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113498
JournalDecision Support Systems
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Decision making
  • Information search
  • Inhibition
  • Neuroscience
  • Stopping rules
  • fMRI techniques


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