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Published May 15, 2008 | public
Journal Article Open

Free choice activates a decision circuit between frontal and parietal cortex


We often face alternatives that we are free to choose between. Planning movements to select an alternative involves several areas in frontal and parietal cortex that are anatomically connected into long-range circuits. These areas must coordinate their activity to select a common movement goal, but how neural circuits make decisions remains poorly understood. Here we simultaneously record from the dorsal premotor area (PMd) in frontal cortex and the parietal reach region (PRR) in parietal cortex to investigate neural circuit mechanisms for decision making. We find that correlations in spike and local field potential (LFP) activity between these areas are greater when monkeys are freely making choices than when they are following instructions. We propose that a decision circuit featuring a sub-population of cells in frontal and parietal cortex may exchange information to coordinate activity between these areas. Cells participating in this decision circuit may influence movement choices by providing a common bias to the selection of movement goals.

Additional Information

© 2008 Nature Publishing Group. Received 2 January 2007; Accepted 22 February 2008; Published online 16 April 2008. Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the National Eye Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency BioInfoMicro program, a Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (B.P.), a James D. Watson Investigator Program Award from NYSTAR (B.P.) and a Sloan Research Fellowship (B.P.). We thank: N. Daw, H. Dean and D. Heeger for comments; T. Yao for editorial assistance; K. Pejsa and N. Sammons for animal care; and V. Shcherbatyuk and M. Walsh for technical assistance. Author Contributions: B.P., M.J.N. and R.A.A. designed the experiment and wrote the paper. B.P. and M.J.N. collected the data. B.P. performed the data analysis.

Attached Files

Supplemental Material - nature06849-s1.pdf

Accepted Version - nihms87615.pdf


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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023