Human and Rodent Homologies in Action Control: Corticostriatal Determinants of Goal-Directed and Habitual Action
Recent behavioral studies in both humans and rodents have found evidence that performance in decision-making tasks depends on two different learning processes; one encoding the relationship between actions and their consequences and a second involving the formation of stimulus–response associations. These learning processes are thought to govern goal-directed and habitual actions, respectively, and have been found to depend on homologous corticostriatal networks in these species. Thus, recent research using comparable behavioral tasks in both humans and rats has implicated homologous regions of cortex (medial prefrontal cortex/medial orbital cortex in humans and prelimbic cortex in rats) and of dorsal striatum (anterior caudate in humans and dorsomedial striatum in rats) in goal-directed action and in the control of habitual actions (posterior lateral putamen in humans and dorsolateral striatum in rats). These learning processes have been argued to be antagonistic or competing because their control over performance appears to be all or none. Nevertheless, evidence has started to accumulate suggesting that they may at times compete and at others cooperate in the selection and subsequent evaluation of actions necessary for normal choice performance. It appears likely that cooperation or competition between these sources of action control depends not only on local interactions in dorsal striatum but also on the cortico-basal ganglia network within which the striatum is embedded and that mediates the integration of learning with basic motivational and emotional processes. The neural basis of the integration of learning and motivation in choice and decision-making is still controversial and we review some recent hypotheses relating to this issue.