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Heart area linked to spatial awareness and planning also plays a role in decision making

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New research from neuroscientists at the University of Chicago shows that the rear parietal cortex (PPC), an area of ​​the brain often associated with planning movements and spatial awareness, also plays a crucial role in deciding images in the field see.

"Traditionally, this part of the brain has been involved in controlling spatial attention and planning. There has been less attention to how much of a role this brain area plays in processing the visual stimuli themselves," said David Freedman, Ph.D. ., professor of neuroscience in UChicago and senior author, published this week in Science . "Here we could show that it plays an important role in understanding what we see, perhaps even more so than its role in planning your next action or targeting your attention."

Freedman and Yang Zhou, Ph. D., a postdoctoral researcher, trained monkeys to play a simple computer game where they reported their decisions on different types of images displayed on a computer screen by moving their eyes to a particular target. For example, if the animals were shown a pattern of dots moving up and to the left, they would move their eyes towards a green spot. If the points move in the opposite direction, they should move their eyes towards a red spot.

For the new study, the researchers tested whether a specific region in PPC called the lateral intra-parietal region (LIP) was directly involved in guiding these decisions. They gave the animals a drug that temporarily stopped neural activities in the LIP area, as they had the monkeys performing the same tasks. While the drug was active, decisions about the visual patterns they were considered were weakened. When the drug was extinguished, their decision returned to normal.

The researchers also recorded activity in the same pool of neurons when the drug had worn away and found that activity in that area of ​​the brain was actually strongly correlated with the same kind

In-depth understanding of how the brain interprets things we see

The findings provide a new context that helps understand why a 201

6 study by another group in Nature reported that disabling parts of LIP did not seem to have any impact on decision making. The study only examined LIP's role in engine planning, for example the decision on whether to look left or right. In contrast, the current study shows that LIP is more involved in making sense of the visual images that the subjects look at, rather than deciding what actions they should take next.

"All the neuronal data we examined in our previous experiments gave us the impression that this area of ​​the brain was involved in processing the importance of visual images during the decision making," Freedman said. "Now we find the fact that when we temporarily close the activity down in it part of the brain, it really affects the sensory parts of the decision. "

Freedman says the new study provides an opportunity for neuroscientists to reconsider the brain mechanisms involved in decision making, visual categorization and sensory and motor processing. A deeper understanding of how the brain interprets the things we see to make decisions Understanding this process in detail will be crucial to developing new treatments for brain-based diseases and disorders that affect decision-making.

"These results show that the brain's parietal cortex is an important hub for managing decisions, so now we are even more motivated to go further and try to elaborate the details of neural circuits in this part of the brain that actually perform these cognitive functions, he says.

One region, two functions: Multitasking key of brain cells to understand overall brain function

More information:
"Posterior parietal cortex plays a causal role in perceptual and categorical decisions" Science (2019). science.sciencemag.org/lookup/ … 1126 / science.aaw8347

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University of Chicago Medical Center

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Heart area linked to spatial awareness and planning also plays a role in decision making (2019, July 11)
July 12, 2019
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