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Neural Netw. 2009 Apr;22(3):286-93. doi: 10.1016/j.neunet.2009.03.003. Epub 2009 Mar 24.

Brain pathways for cognitive-emotional decision making in the human animal.

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Department of Psychology, 501 South Nedderman Drive, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019-0528, United States.


As roles for different brain regions become clearer, a picture emerges of how primate prefrontal cortex executive circuitry influences subcortical decision making pathways inherited from other mammals. The human's basic needs or drives can be interpreted as residing in an on-center off-surround network in motivational regions of the hypothalamus and brain stem. Such a network has multiple attractors that, in this case, represent the amount of satisfaction of these needs, and we consider and interpret neurally a continuous-time simulated annealing algorithm for moving between attractors under the influence of noise that represents "discontent" combined with "initiative." For decision making on specific tasks, we employ a variety of rules whose neural circuitry appears to involve the amygdala and the orbital, cingulate, and dorsolateral regions of prefrontal cortex. These areas can be interpreted as connected in a three-layer adaptive resonance network. The vigilance of the network, which is influenced by the state of the hypothalamic needs network, determines the level of sophistication of the rule being utilized.

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