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Paul Cisek "Reaching decisions through a distributed consensus".

Abstract :


Classical psychological theories divide behaviour into serial processes that construct representations of the external world, manipulate knowledge to make decisions, and execute action plans. However, mounting neurophysiological data do not support this serial view, and instead motivate theoretical architectures in which decision-making is intimately integrated and occurs in parallel with closed-loop sensorimotor control. In my talk, I will describe a theoretical framework which suggests that the brain continuously processes sensory information to specify several potential actions in fronto-parietal cortex, which then engage in a competition for overt performance. This competition is biased by a variety of influences, including prefrontal cortex and the basal ganglia. Within this distributed neural system, a decision emerges when a bias within one region becomes strong enough to propagate across the network to other regions. The particular order in which the consensus is reached may therefore be task-dependent, sometimes proceeding in a posterior-anterior direction across the cortex and sometimes in the opposite direction

Paul Cisek is an assistant professor at the department of physiology at the University of Montréal. In 1997, he obtained his Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from Boston University where he worked with Drs. Stephen Grossberg and Daniel Bullock. He then worked as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Steve Scott at Queen’s University, studying the neural mechanisms of motor control, and later with Dr. John Kalaska at the University of Montréal, studying the cortical mechanisms of planning and decision-making. In 2004 he joined the faculty of the University of Montréal where he has established a lab studying decision-making and movement planning using computational modeling, psychophysics, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and multi-electrode recording in awake, behaving monkeys.

Selected publications

Cisek, P. (2007) “Cortical mechanisms of action selection: The affordance competition hypothesis” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 362: 1585-1599.
    
Cisek, P. (2006) “Integrated neural processes for defining potential actions and deciding between them: A computational model”. Journal of Neuroscience. 26(38): 9761-9770.
    
Cisek, P. & Kalaska, J.F. (2005) “Neural correlates of reaching decisions in dorsal premotor cortex: specification of multiple direction choices and final selection of action”. Neuron. 45(5): 801-814.