Functional neuroimaging data indicate the dorsal striatum is engaged when people are required to vary the cautiousness of their decisions, by emphasizing the speed or accuracy of responding in laboratory-based decision tasks. However, the functional contribution of the striatum to decision making is unknown. In the current study we tested patients with focal ischemic lesions of the dorsal striatum and matched non-lesion control participants on a speed-accuracy tradeoff (SAT) task. Analysis using a computational model of response selection in a competitive and time-pressured context indicated that the decisions of patients with striatal lesions were less cautious than those of matched controls. This deficit was most prominent when the accuracy of decisions was emphasized. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that the striatum plays an important role in strategically setting response caution, an essential function for flexible behavior.
Keywords: Decision making; Human brain lesion; Mathematical model; Response caution; Speed-accuracy tradeoff; Striatum.
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