Dual Competition between the Basal Ganglia and the Cortex: from Action-Outcome to Stimulus-Response
. 2017-09-13; :
Action-outcome (A-O) and stimulus-response (S-R) processes that are two forms of instrumental conditioning that are important components of decision making and action selection. The former adapts its response according to the outcome while the latter is insensitive to the outcome. An unsolved question is how these two processes emerge, cooperate and interact inside the brain in order to issue a unique behavioral answer. Here we propose a model of the interaction between the cortex, the basal ganglia and the thalamus based on a dual competition. We hypothesize that the striatum, the subthalamic nucleus, the internal pallidum (GPi), the thalamus, and the cortex are involved in closed feedback loops through the hyperdirect and direct pathways. These loops support a competition process that results in the ability for the basal ganglia to make a cognitive decision followed by a motor decision. Considering lateral cortical interactions (short range excitation, long range inhibition), another competition takes place inside the cortex allowing this latter to make a cognitive and a motor decision. We show how this dual competition endows the model with two regimes. One is oriented towards action-outcome and is driven by reinforcement learning, the other is oriented towards stimulus-response and is driven by Hebbian learning. The final decision is made according to a combination of these two mechanisms with a gradual transfer from the former to the latter. We confirmed these theoretical results on primates using a two-armed bandit task and a reversible bilateral inactivation of the internal part of the globus pallidus.