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  Confidence in decision-making during probabilistic tactile learning related to distinct thalamo-prefrontal pathways

Wang, B. A., & Pleger, B. (2020). Confidence in decision-making during probabilistic tactile learning related to distinct thalamo-prefrontal pathways. Cerebral Cortex, 30(8), 4677-4688. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhaa073.

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 Creators:
Wang, Bin A.1, 2, Author
Pleger, Burkhard1, 2, 3, Author              
Affiliations:
1Department of Neurology, University Hospital Bergmannsheil, Bochum, Germany, ou_persistent22              
2Collaborative Research Centre 874 “Integration and Representation of Sensory Processes”, Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany, ou_persistent22              
3Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634549              

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Free keywords: Decision-making; Prior belief; Tactile learning; Thalamo–prefrontal connection
 Abstract: 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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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2020-03-032019-10-032020-03-072020-03-202020-08
 Publication Status: Published in print
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 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhaa073
PMID: 32198514
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Funding program : (SFB 874)
Funding organization : German Research Foundation

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Title: Cerebral Cortex
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: New York, NY : Oxford University Press
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 30 (8) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 4677 - 4688 Identifier: ISSN: 1047-3211
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925592440