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Brain Stimul. 2015 Sep-Oct;8(5):957-64. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2015.05.007. Epub 2015 May 29.

Increased Reliance on Value-based Decision Processes Following Motor Cortex Disruption.

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Institute of Neuroscience, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.
Institute of Neuroscience, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium. Electronic address:



During motor decision making, the neural activity in primary motor cortex (M1) encodes dynamically the competition occurring between potential action plans. A common view is that M1 represents the unfolding of the outcome of a decision process taking place upstream. Yet, M1 could also be directly involved in the decision process.


Here we tested this hypothesis by assessing the effect of M1 disruption on a motor decision-making task.


We applied continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) to inhibit either left or right M1 in different groups of subjects and included a third control group with no stimulation. Following cTBS, participants performed a task that required them to choose between two finger key-presses with the right hand according to both perceptual and value-based information. Effects were assessed by means of generalized linear mixed models and computational simulations.


In all three groups, subjects relied both on perceptual (P < 0.0001) and value-based information (P = 0.003) to reach a decision. Yet, left M1 disruption led to an increased reliance on value-based information (P = 0.03). This result was confirmed by a computational model showing an increased weight of the valued-based process on the right hand finger choices following left M1 cTBS (P < 0.01).


These results indicate that M1 is involved in motor decision making, possibly by weighting the final integration of multiple sources of evidence driving motor behaviors.


Action selection; Competition; Decision making; Perceptual decision; Reward; Transcranial magnetic stimulation

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