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Nat Neurosci. 2011 Sep 25;14(11):1462-7. doi: 10.1038/nn.2925.

Subthalamic nucleus stimulation reverses mediofrontal influence over decision threshold.

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Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.


It takes effort and time to tame one's impulses. Although medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is broadly implicated in effortful control over behavior, the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is specifically thought to contribute by acting as a brake on cortico-striatal function during decision conflict, buying time until the right decision can be made. Using the drift diffusion model of decision making, we found that trial-to-trial increases in mPFC activity (EEG theta power, 4-8 Hz) were related to an increased threshold for evidence accumulation (decision threshold) as a function of conflict. Deep brain stimulation of the STN in individuals with Parkinson's disease reversed this relationship, resulting in impulsive choice. In addition, intracranial recordings of the STN area revealed increased activity (2.5-5 Hz) during these same high-conflict decisions. Activity in these slow frequency bands may reflect a neural substrate for cortico-basal ganglia communication regulating decision processes.

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