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The Dopaminergic Midbrain Encodes the Expected Certainty about Desired Outcomes.

Schwartenbeck, P; FitzGerald, TH; Mathys, C; Dolan, R; Friston, K; (2014) The Dopaminergic Midbrain Encodes the Expected Certainty about Desired Outcomes. Cereb Cortex , 25 (10) pp. 3434-3445. 10.1093/cercor/bhu159. Green open access

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Abstract

Dopamine plays a key role in learning; however, its exact function in decision making and choice remains unclear. Recently, we proposed a generic model based on active (Bayesian) inference wherein dopamine encodes the precision of beliefs about optimal policies. Put simply, dopamine discharges reflect the confidence that a chosen policy will lead to desired outcomes. We designed a novel task to test this hypothesis, where subjects played a "limited offer" game in a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment. Subjects had to decide how long to wait for a high offer before accepting a low offer, with the risk of losing everything if they waited too long. Bayesian model comparison showed that behavior strongly supported active inference, based on surprise minimization, over classical utility maximization schemes. Furthermore, midbrain activity, encompassing dopamine projection neurons, was accurately predicted by trial-by-trial variations in model-based estimates of precision. Our findings demonstrate that human subjects infer both optimal policies and the precision of those inferences, and thus support the notion that humans perform hierarchical probabilistic Bayesian inference. In other words, subjects have to infer both what they should do as well as how confident they are in their choices, where confidence may be encoded by dopaminergic firing.

Type: Article
Title: The Dopaminergic Midbrain Encodes the Expected Certainty about Desired Outcomes.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhu159
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhu159
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: active inference, confidence, dopamine, neuroeconomics, precision
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Department of Neuromuscular Diseases
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1436131
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