Adaptive behaviour in real-world environments requires that choices integrate several variables, including the novelty of the options under consideration, their expected value and uncertainty in value estimation. Here, to probe how integration over decision variables occurs during decision-making, we recorded neurons from the human pre-supplementary motor area (preSMA), ventromedial prefrontal cortex and dorsal anterior cingulate. Unlike the other areas, preSMA neurons not only represented separate pre-decision variables for each choice option but also encoded an integrated utility signal for each choice option and, subsequently, the decision itself. Post-decision encoding of variables for the chosen option was more widely distributed and especially prominent in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Our findings position the human preSMA as central to the implementation of value-based decisions.
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Behavioural and neural data have been deposited in the OSF platform: https://osf.io/34b9f/?view_only=be3c529466fa444d8b97a2bab8951435.
The code for data analysis can be found at: https://github.com/43technetium/casino_task_analysis.
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We thank the members of the O’Doherty and Rutishauser laboratories for discussions and feedback. We thank all participants and their families for their participation, and nurses and medical staff for their work. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grant nos. R01DA040011 and R01MH111425 (to J.P.O.), R01MH110831 and U01NS117839 (to U.R.) and P50MH094258 (to J.P.O. and U.R.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Aquino, T.G., Cockburn, J., Mamelak, A.N. et al. Neurons in human pre-supplementary motor area encode key computations for value-based choice. Nat Hum Behav (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-023-01548-2