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Decision-making -- Demonstration of a link between cognition and execution

For the first time, a team of researchers in the Movement, Adaptation, Cognition Laboratory (CNRS/University Victor Sgalen, Bordeaux) has revealed the existence of an interaction at the cellular level between cognitive information and motor information. This discovery provides the missing link between studies on decision-making processes and those relative to the execution of motor acts. It constitutes a fundamental advance in our understanding of the physiological role of the basal ganglia and, more specifically, of Parkinson's disease. This work was published on January 31 in The Journal of Neuroscience.

There are two phases in the genesis of a movement directed towards a target when several choices are possible: firstly decision-making (cognitive information) and then the direction of this movement towards to the target (motor information). The brain is endowed with one or several structures which can integrate both cognitive information (enabling a reasoned choice which is not based on chance) and motor information. It is supposed that the basal ganglia play an essential role in these processes. However, the underlying mechanisms are still generally unknown.

A certain number of studies have suggested that the striatum , the cerebral structure considered as the portal of entry for the basal ganglia, may intervene in decision-making processes; as soon as a choice is offered to an individual, it evaluates the degree of incentive provided by each of the options possible. This phenomenon is probably controlled by dopamine , one of the neuromodulators present in large quantities in the basal ganglia. Furthermore, it has been shown that the electrical activity of neurons in the internal globus pallidus , the brain structure qualified as the exit point for the basal ganglia, codes the kinetic properties of the movement (direction, amplitude, speed, etc.). However, until now, no studies had demonstrated the existence of a link between t
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Contact: Monica McCarthy
monica.mccarthy@cnrs-dir.fr
33-144-965-191
CNRS
8-Feb-2007


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