A computational model of reach decisions in the primate cerebral cortex Paul Cisek Department of physiology, University of Montreal [email protected] Neurophysiological evidence suggests that visually-guided reaching movements are not produced by a serial sequence of decision-making, trajectory planning, and motor execution, but through “specification” and “selection” processes that overlap both temporally and anatomically (Cisek, 2002). At all times, information from the dorsal visual stream is used to specify the parameters of several potential motor actions that are currently available. These representations compete for overt execution through mutual inhibition that is biased by various factors such as salience, attention, expected reward, and other cognitive factors, many of which are computed on the basis of information from the ventral stream. Here, I present a formal computational model which demonstrates how partial specification of several potential movement directions, and the selection of the correct movement, can occur in populations of directionally tuned cells in a distributed cortical network including posterior parietal (PPC), dorsal premotor (PMd), prefrontal (PFC), and primary motor cortex (M1). Briefly, visual information generates activity in a field of tuned PPC neurons, with peaks corresponding to different potential actions. Through reciprocal topological connections, this pattern is repeated in PMd. Because lateral connections among model PMd cells are organized with an on-center-off-surround pattern, distinct peaks corresponding to distinct actions compete against each other through mutual inhibition. This competition is biased by various factors, notably including excitatory input from model PFC cells which gradually integrate evidence for choosing each of the alternative movement options. The network reproduces, with a single set of parameters, a large set of neurophysiological and psychophysical findings. For example, it reproduces the behavior of the kinds of cells observed in PMd during a reach-decision task (Cisek & Kalaska, 2002), including subtle effects such as an inverse relationship between the number of targets and the magnitude and width of activity associated with each, and the observation that decision errors are in most cases caused by a bias in the activity which existed prior to the choice cue. The model also simulates several results reported by Ghez et al.(1997), including the observation that when choices are made quickly, subjects move in-between targets that are close together, but choose randomly between targets that are far apart. Because the transfer function between PMd cells has both a slower-than-linear and a faster-than-linear portion, small differences between the magnitudes of distinct peaks are suppressed while large differences are exaggerated (Grossberg, 1973). Thus, the network resists random fluctuations due to noise but implements a winner-take-all mechanism once the difference crosses a “quenching threshold”. Because of this, the behavior of the network resembles that of horse-race models of decision making, and like those models, reproduces results on the distribution of reaction times with different levels of decision certainty. In conclusion, the model mathematically expresses a general hypothesis on motor decisions and planning – that in many everyday situations, several potential actions are often specified simultaneously and compete for overt execution. This hypothesis is used in an attempt to unify psychophysical results on the metrics and timing of human actions with data on single cell activity during simple decision tasks, and to understand from a theoretical perspective the functional reason for the observed mixing of sensory, motor, and cognitive variables within the activity of cells in movement-related cortical regions.

Reference List Cisek, P. (2002) “Think before you act, but prepare an assortment of partial actions before you think” Advances in Computational Motor Control, a Satellite Symposium of the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Orlando, FL, November 2nd, 2002. Cisek, P., & Kalaska, J.F. (2002), Simultaneous encoding of multiple potential reach directions in dorsal premotor cortex. Journal of Neurophysiology, 87, 1149-1154. Ghez, C., Favilla, M., Ghilardi, M.F., Gordon, J., Bermejo, R., & Pullman, S. (1997), Discrete and continuous planning of hand movements and isometric force trajectories. Experimental Brain Research, 115, 217233. Grossberg, S. (1973), Contour enhancement, short term memory, and constancies in reverberating neural networks. Studies in Applied Mathematics, 52, 213-257.

A computational model of reach decisions in the ...

Paul Cisek. Department of physiology, University of Montreal ... Reference List. Cisek, P. (2002) “Think ... Neuroscience. Orlando, FL, November 2nd, 2002.

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