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Value-based decision-making of actions and tasks in human prefrontal cortex

Abstract : Switching between tasks in cue-based decision-making has been studied intensively, e.g. putting on hold one task while performing another one, with a fixed reward. Here, the frontopolar cortex (FPC) is engaged when subjects are required to keep in mind a main goal while performing parallel subgoals, and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) associates actions to outcomes. During my thesis, I investigated switching on different levels of action abstraction in value-based decision-making: choosing freely on the one hand between two simple actions, and on the other hand between two abstract structures, i.e. competing tasks. fMRI BOLD signals were recorded on healthy subjects during a probabilistic reversal-learning para-digm, with anti-correlated stochastic reward probabilities. I compared basic reinforcement learning and a bayesian approach to infer the subject's internal option values, which I regressed against the BOLD response.The findings reveal that the ventromedial PFC and striatum are engaged on the level of actions, and in contrast FPC, ACC and dorsolateral PFC on a task level. FPC monitors the evidence in favor of the alternative task only, and ACC activity manifests a task effect, predicting the switching behavior between tasks, but not actions. Furthermore, I provide evidence for a specific engagement of the prefrontal cortex network in value-based decision-making of abstract behavioral structures through connectivity analyses.
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Sven Collette. Value-based decision-making of actions and tasks in human prefrontal cortex. Neuroscience. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2012. English. ⟨NNT : 2012PA066074⟩. ⟨tel-00828227⟩

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