A neural network for information seeking

Nat Commun. 2019 Nov 14;10(1):5168. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-13135-z.


Humans and other animals often show a strong desire to know the uncertain rewards their future has in store, even when they cannot use this information to influence the outcome. However, it is unknown how the brain predicts opportunities to gain information and motivates this information-seeking behavior. Here we show that neurons in a network of interconnected subregions of primate anterior cingulate cortex and basal ganglia predict the moment of gaining information about uncertain rewards. Spontaneous increases in their information prediction signals are followed by gaze shifts toward objects associated with resolving uncertainty, and pharmacologically disrupting this network reduces the motivation to seek information. These findings demonstrate a cortico-basal ganglia mechanism responsible for motivating actions to resolve uncertainty by seeking knowledge about the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Information Seeking Behavior / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Reward
  • Uncertainty