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C. Klaes, S. Westendorff, S. Chakrabarti, and A. Gail (2011)

Choosing Goals, not Rules: Deciding among Rule-Based Action Plans

Neuron 70:536-548.  (export entry)

In natural situations, movements are often directed toward locations different from that of the evoking sensory stimulus. Movement goals must then be inferred from the sensory cue based on rules. When there is uncertainty about the rule that applies for a given cue, planning a movement involves both choosing the relevant rule and computing the movement goal based on that rule. Under these conditions, it is not clear whether primates compute multiple movement goals based on all possible rules before choosing an action, or whether they first choose a rule and then only represent the movement goal associated with that rule. Supporting the former hypothesis, we show that neurons in the frontoparietal reach areas of monkeys simultaneously represent two different rule-based movement goals, which are biased by the monkeys’ choice preferences. Apparently, primates choose between multiple behavioral options by weighing against each other the movement goals associated with each option.