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Decision-making and prefrontal executive function

Final Report Summary - FRONTEX (Decision-making and prefrontal executive function)

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) subserves decision-making and executive control, i.e. the ability to make decisions and to regulate behavior according to external events, mental models of external contingencies, internal drives and subjective preferences. The PFC function operates along three major dimensions, namely the affective, motivational and cognitive control of action subserved by the orbital, medial and lateral sectors of the PFC, respectively. How these prefrontal sectors interact together and form an unitary executive system regulating behavior remains poorly understood. In this project,we used computational modeling and neuroimaging experiments in human to clarify this issue. We especially show how the medial prefrontal cortex is functionally organized to subserve motivational control and how the ventromedial and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex interact with lateral and polar prefrontal regions in learning behavioral strategies required for cognitive control and conversely, how cognitive control guides the learning of such behavioral strategies. We have identified several key computational mechanisms and algorithms describing how these regions work as a unitary system in the service of judgments and decision-making. The results has important implications in medicine, as alterations of the prefrontal function is observed in aging and most neuropsychiatric diseases, as well as in technology for developing artificial and robotics intelligence with human-like adaptive reasoning and decision-making abilities.