The subthalamic nucleus during decision-making with multiple alternatives

Hum Brain Mapp. 2015 Oct;36(10):4041-4052. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22896. Epub 2015 Jul 15.


Several prominent neurocomputational models predict that an increase of choice alternatives is modulated by increased activity in the subthalamic nucleus (STN). In turn, increased STN activity allows prolonged accumulation of information. At the same time, areas in the medial frontal cortex such as the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the pre-SMA are hypothesized to influence the information processing in the STN. This study set out to test concrete predictions of STN activity in multiple-alternative decision-making using a multimodal combination of 7 Tesla structural and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and ancestral graph (AG) modeling. The results are in line with the predictions in that increased STN activity was found with an increasing amount of choice alternatives. In addition, our study shows that activity in the ACC is correlated with activity in the STN without directly modulating it. This result sheds new light on the information processing streams between medial frontal cortex and the basal ganglia.

Keywords: basal ganglia; computational modeling; decision-making; diffusion weighted imaging; functional magnetic resonance imaging; ultrahigh field magnetic resonance imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Computer Simulation
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Young Adult