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Monitoring the past and choosing the future: the prefrontal cortical influences on voluntary action

Phillips, H. N., Cope, T. E., Hughes, L. E., Zhang, J. and Rowe, J. B. 2020. Monitoring the past and choosing the future: the prefrontal cortical influences on voluntary action. Scientific Reports 8 , 7247. 10.1038/s41598-018-25127-y

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Choosing between equivalent response options requires the resolution of ambiguity. One could facilitate such decisions by monitoring previous actions and implementing transient or arbitrary rules to differentiate response options. This would reduce the entropy of chosen actions. We examined voluntary action decisions during magnetoencephalography, identifying the spatiotemporal correlates of stimulus- and choice-entropy. Negative correlations between frontotemporal activity and entropy of past trials were observed after participants’ responses, reflecting sequential monitoring of recent events. In contrast, choice entropy correlated negatively with prefrontal activity, before and after participants’ response, consistent with transient activation of latent response-sets ahead of a decision and updating the monitor of recent decisions after responding. Individual differences in current choices were related to the strength of the prefrontal signals that reflect monitoring of the statistical regularities in previous events. Together, these results explain individual expressions of voluntary action, through differential engagement of prefrontal areas to guide sequential decisions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 April 2018
Date of Acceptance: 10 April 2018
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2020 05:35

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