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The area of ​​the brain related to spatial awareness and planning also plays a role in decision-making



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New research by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago shows that posterior parietal cortex (PCP), a region of the brain often associated with planning movements and spatial awareness, also plays a crucial role in taking of decision concerning the images in the field of vision.

"Traditionally, it was thought that this part of the brain was involved in the control of spatial attention and planning actions.We paid less attention to the role that this brain zone plays in the treatment of visual stimuli. themselves, "said David Freedman, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience at UChicago and lead author of the study, published this week in Science. "We have been able to show here that this plays an important role in understanding the things we see, perhaps even more than in planning your next action or direction of your attention."

Freedman and Yang Zhou, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher, coached the monkeys to play a simple computer game in which they reported their decisions regarding different types of images displayed on a screen. Computer by moving their eyes towards a designated target. For example, if the animals had a pattern of points moving up and to the left, they were supposed to move their eyes towards a green dot. If the points move in the opposite direction, they must move their eyes to a red dot.

For the new study, the researchers tested whether a specific region of the CPP called lateral intraparietal area (LIP) was directly involved in guiding these decisions. They administered the animals a drug that temporarily interrupted neuronal activity in the LIP area, and then they asked the monkeys to perform the same tasks. While the drug was active, the decisions of the monkeys regarding the visual patterns observed were altered; once the drug is gone, their decisions are back to normal.

The researchers also recorded activity in the same pool of neurons once the drug was worn out and found that this activity in this region of the brain was indeed highly correlated with the same types of decisions that had been altered during the experiments.

Better understanding of how the brain interprets the things we see

The results provide a new context to help understand why a study conducted in 2016 by another group of Nature reported that the deactivation of parts of the LIP program did not appear to have an impact on decision-making. This study focused only on the role of LIP in motor planning, such as the decision to look left or right. On the other hand, the present study shows that LIP is more involved in understanding the visual images that the subjects are watching, rather than in the decision of the actions to be undertaken later.

"All the neural data that we examined in our past experiences gave us the impression that this area of ​​the brain was involved in processing the meaning of visual images when making decisions," Freedman said. "Now, we actually find that when we temporarily stop activity in this part of the brain, it actually affects the sensory parts of the decisions."

According to Freedman, this new study offers neuroscientists an opportunity to rethink the brain mechanisms involved in decision-making, visual categorization, as well as sensory and motor processing. The work could also lead to a deeper understanding of how the brain interprets the things we see in order to make decisions. Understanding this process in detail will be critical to developing new treatments for diseases and brain disorders that affect decision-making.

"These results show that the parietal cortex of the brain is an important hub for guiding decisions, so we are even more motivated to go forward and try to determine the details of the neural circuits in this part of the brain that are realizing. these cognitive processes. " functions, "he said.


One region, two functions: the key to multitask brain cells to understand global brain function


More information:
"Posterior parietal cortex plays a causal role in perceptual and categorical decisions" Science (2019). science.sciencemag.org/lookup/… 1126 / science.aaw8347

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University of Chicago Medical Center




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The area of ​​the brain related to spatial awareness and planning also plays a role in decision-making (July 11, 2019)
recovered on July 12, 2019
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