[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Decision-making in an uncertain environment is driven by two major needs: exploring the environment to gather information or exploiting acquired knowledge to maximize reward. The neural processes underlying exploratory decision-making have been mainly studied by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging, overlooking any information about the time when decisions are made. Here, we carried out an electroencephalography (EEG) experiment, in order to detect the time when the brain generators responsible for these decisions have been sufficiently activated to lead to the next decision. Our analyses, based on a classification scheme, extract time-unlocked voltage topographies during reward presentation and use them to predict the type of decisions made on the subsequent trial. Classification accuracy, measured as the area under the Receiver Operator's Characteristic curve was on average 0.65 across 7 subjects. Classification accuracy was above chance levels already after 516 ms on average, across subjects. We speculate that decisions were already made before this critical period, as confirmed by a positive correlation with reaction times across subjects. On an individual subject basis, distributed source estimations were performed on the extracted topographies to statistically evaluate the neural correlates of decision-making. For trials leading to exploration, there was significantly higher activity in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the right supramarginal gyrus; areas responsible for modulating behavior under risk and deduction. No area was more active during exploitation. We show for the first time the temporal evolution of differential patterns of brain activation in an exploratory decision-making task on a single-trial basis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study aims to characterize the electroencephalography (EEG) correlates of exploratory behavior. Decision making in an uncertain environment raises a conflict between two opposing needs: gathering information about the environment and exploiting this knowledge in order to optimize the decision. Exploratory behavior has already been studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Based on a usual paradigm in reinforcement learning, this study has shown bilateral activation in the frontal and parietal cortex. To our knowledge, no previous study has been done on it using EEG. The study of the exploratory behavior using EEG signals raises two difficulties. First, the labels of trial as exploitation or exploration cannot be directly derived from the subject action. In order to access this information, a model of how the subject makes his decision must be built. The exploration related information can be then derived from it. Second, because of the complexity of the task, its EEG correlates are not necessarily time locked with the action. So the EEG processing methods used should be designed in order to handle signals that shift in time across trials. Using the same experimental protocol as the fMRI study, results show that the bilateral frontal and parietal areas are also the most discriminant. This strongly suggests that the EEG signal also conveys information about the exploratory behavior.
IEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering: a publication of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society 01/2009; 16(6):549-56. · 2.42 Impact Factor