Building Action Repertoires Based on Value: Corticostriatal Dynamics
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 12:00pm
Regions of the medial prefrontal cortex are known to function in organizing behavior and emotional decision-making, both key functions disturbed in a range of neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders. In our laboratory, we are seeking to understand mechanisms underlying these functions by applying optogenetic manipulations and microstimulation to these regions and their corticostriatal circuits. We find that we can interrupt the transition from deliberative decision-making to a habitual mode of decisions to act, and can interrupt habitual and insistently repetitive behaviors. In other experiments, we can selectively disrupt decision-making under different contexts involving weighing the costs and benefits of such choices. These experiments point to profoundly important functions of corticostriatal circuits and to their exquisite specialization. These features could be critical in linking these corticostriatal circuit mechanisms to human disorders in which value-based decision-making is affected.
Ann Graybiel is a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT. Ann Graybiel studies the basal ganglia, forebrain structures that are profoundly important for normal brain function but are also implicated in Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and addiction. Graybiel's work is uncovering neural deficits related to these disorders, as well as the role the basal ganglia play in guiding normal behavior.