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Confidence in Decision-Making during Probabilistic Tactile Learning Related to Distinct Thalamo-Prefrontal Pathways.

08:00 EDT 20th March 2020 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Confidence in Decision-Making during Probabilistic Tactile Learning Related to Distinct Thalamo-Prefrontal Pathways."

The flexibility in adjusting the decision strategy from trial to trial is a prerequisite for learning in a probabilistic environment. Corresponding neural underpinnings remain largely unexplored. In the present study, 28 male humans were engaged in an associative learning task, in which they had to learn the changing probabilistic strengths of tactile sample stimuli. Combining functional magnetic resonance imaging with computational modeling, we show that an unchanged decision strategy over successively presented trials related to weakened functional connectivity between ventralmedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and left secondary somatosensory cortex. The weaker the connection strength, the faster participants indicated their choice. If the decision strategy remained unchanged, participant's decision confidence (i.e., prior belief) was related to functional connectivity between vmPFC and right pulvinar. While adjusting the decision strategy, we instead found confidence-related connections between left orbitofrontal cortex and left thalamic mediodorsal nucleus. The stronger the participant's prior belief, the weaker the connection strengths. Together, these findings suggest that distinct thalamo-prefrontal pathways encode the confidence in keeping or changing the decision strategy during probabilistic learning. Low confidence in the decision strategy demands more thalamo-prefrontal processing resources, which is in-line with the theoretical accounts of the free-energy principle.

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Name: Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
ISSN: 1460-2199
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