Meropi Topalidou

“Neuroscience of decision making: from goal-directed actions to habits”

Defended on October 10 2016

Action-outcome and stimulus-response processes are two important components of behavior. The former evaluates the benefit of an action in order to choose the best action among those available (action selection) while the latter is responsible for automatic behavior, eliciting a response as soon as a known stimulus is present. Such habits are generally associated (and mostly opposed) to goal-directed actions that require a deliberative process to evaluate the best option to take in order to reach a given goal. Using a computational model, I investigated the classic hypothesis of habits formation and expression in the basal ganglia and propose a new role for both the basal ganglia (BG) and the cortex. The computational model of the basal ganglia-thalamus-cortex uses segregated loops (motor, cognitive and associative) and makes the hypothesis that BG are necessary for the acquisition of habits but habits can be later expressed without the BG. Those results have been confirmed experimentally and tend to reverse the old idea that automatism is a subcortical feature.


Meropi Topalidou, Daisuke Kase, Thomas Boraud, Nicolas P. Rougier. Dissociation of reinforcement and Hebbian learning induces covert acquisition of value in the basal ganglia. 2016.

Camille Piron, Daisuke Kase, Meropi Topalidou, Michel Goillandeau, Hugues Orignac, et al.. The Globus Pallidus Pars Interna in Goal-Oriented and Routine Behaviors: Resolving a Long-Standing Paradox. Movement Disorders, Wiley, 2016,

Meropi Topalidou, Nicolas P. Rougier. [Re] Interaction between cognitive and motor cortico-basal ganglia loops during decision making: a computational study. ReScience,, 2015, 1 (1),

Meropi Topalidou, Camille Piron, Daisuke Kase, Thomas Boraud, Nicolas P. Rougier. The formation of habits: The implicit supervision of Basal Ganglia. FENS Featured Regional Meeting 2015, Oct 2015, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Meropi Topalidou, Camille Piron, Daisuke Kaise, Thomas Boraud, Nicolas P. Rougier. The formation of habits: The implicit supervision of the basal ganglia. Fifth International Symposium on Biology of Decision Making (SBDM 2015), May 2015, Paris, France.


  • Supervisor: Dr. Nicolas P. Rougier
  • President : Dr. Thomas Boraud
  • Reviewer: Dr. Anastasia Christakou
  • Reviewer: Dr. Benoît Girard
  • Examinator: Dr. Suzanne Haber

PhD supervisor

Nicolas Rougier
Chercheur INRIA
PhD, Institut des maladies neurodégénératives
Université de Bordeaux
Equipe: Mnemosyne: synergie mnémonique

Last update: 4 April 2018