CoActions Lab

Cognition and Actions Lab

Integration of reward and its impact on motor excitability during action selection

Most daily life situations require making decisions between several actions. Choices may involve deciding which restaurant to visit or the best route to take to avoid holiday traffic, although competitive processes are also at play in much simpler actions, for example when we have to choose between the left or right hand to pick up an object. Recent computational and neurophysiological approaches view decision making as a bounded-accumulation system linking perception, cognition and action in an integrative parallel process. Such models assume a dynamic activation of multiple action plans in motor-related areas, set by ongoing contextual cues, with neural activity related to the preparation of a response reflecting a competition between these simultaneously activated motor plans. A corollary of this idea is that the build-up of activity of potential action representations during response selection could be regulated by cognitive cues that drive our decisions (e.g. expected reward associated with potential actions), possibly through top-down influences originating in the prefrontal cortex. Here, we are interested in testing this idea. In particular, we study the impact of reward on motor excitability during action selection and the functional contribution of this influence to motor decisions.

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