CoActions Lab

Cognition and Actions Lab

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Decision making

decision makingThe physical world provides living beings with a variety of options, constantly requiring them to make choices, some of which are critical for survival. For instance, whether a fly stays on a wall or not will influence its chance to escape from a swatter; the choice of a cheetah to jump or crawl can determine the likelihood of catching a prey; finally, the choice of a car driver to turn left or right in front of a sudden obstacle may have dramatic consequences on his life and on that of the pedestrians around. Models of decision making postulate that an action emerges when a neural signal coding for that action reaches a critical decision threshold. The signal is thought to accumulate from a starting point, at a speed that depends on the amount of evidence favoring that option. Evidence may be strong or weak, bringing the signal either closer to the threshold or further away. In the car driver example above, the presence of pedestrians on the right side of the street will produce a strengthening of the neural signal coding for a left-side rotation and a reduction of the one coding for a right-side rotation, to avoid hitting the group of people.

The evidence accumulation idea is supported by a compendium of neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies showing evidence-dependent changes in neural activity in several brain regions. Interestingly, in the last decade, some studies have evidenced that such decision-related signals might also drive changes in the activity of motor structures, which suggests that these structures might contribute to the decision process itself. The present research theme encompasses several projects with the main common goal to better comprehend the role of motor neural structures (e.g., the primary motor cortex, the pre-supplementary motor area, the basal ganglia) in decision-making processes. One project investigates the contribution of M1 to value-based reinforcement learning and decision making. Another project explores the cortical correlates of spatial attention and action selection during decision making under conflict. Finally, we also study the involvement of M1 and its interactions with the basal ganglia and the dopaminergic system, in the implementation of urgency during motor decisions.

People involved:

Related publications:

  1. Derosiere G, Vassiliadis P, Demaret S, Zenon A, Duque J. Learning stage-dependent effect of M1 disruption on value-based motor decisions. NeuroImage. 2017.
  2. Derosiere G, Zenon A, Alamia A, Duque J. Primary motor cortex contributes to the implementation of implicit value-based rules during motor decisions. NeuroImage. 2017; 146, 1115-1127.
  3. Duque J, Petitjean C, Swinnen SP. Effect of aging on motor inhibition during action preparation under sensory conflict. Front in Aging Neurosci. 2016; 8.
  4. Zénon A, Klein PA, Alamia A, Boursoit F, Wilhelm E, Duque, J. Increased reliance on value-based decision processes following motor cortex disruption. Brain stim. 2015; 8(5), 957-964.
  5. Klein PA, Petitjean C, Olivier E, Duque J. Top-down suppression of incompatible motor activations during response selection under conflict. Neuroimage. 2014; 86, 138-149.
  6. Klein PA, Olivier E, Duque J. Influence of reward on corticospinal excitability during movement preparation. J Neurosci. 2012; 32(50), 18124-18136.


Other research topics

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  • Hot line: +32 2 764 54 29