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Decisions, dopamine, and degeneracy in complex biological systems

Authors Regan C

Received 22 October 2013

Accepted for publication 17 December 2013

Published 31 January 2014 Volume 2014:3 Pages 11—18

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NAN.S32234

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4


Ciaran M Regan

School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, UCD Conway Institute, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland

Abstract: The neurobiological and computational analysis of value-based decision-making rests within the domain of neuroeconomics which has the goal of providing a biological account of human behavior relevant to both natural and social sciences. This review proposes a framework to investigate different aspects of the theoretical and molecular neurobiology of decision-making. In order to learn how to make good decisions, the brain needs to compute a separate value signal that measures the desirability of the outcomes that were generated by its previous decisions. The framework presented here combines aspects of current ideas relating to information processing by the hippocampal formation and how these relate to the phasic midbrain dopaminergic firing that occurs in response to the spatial and motivational aspects of rewarding events in the environment. The activities of hippocampal ensembles are considered to reflect a continuous updating process for attended experiences, defining both regular and irregular stimuli, environments, and actions, that are rapidly encoded as schemas into pre-existing knowledge bases.

Keywords:
hippocampus, schemas, synapse assemblies, cell assemblies, synapse plasticity

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