Seminar Series

The anatomo-functional role of the subthalamic nucleus in strategic decision-making

The basal ganglia are thought to implement a generic action–selection mechanism that releases from inhibition those actions that are desirable and maintains inhibitory control over all others. One key hypothesis that is shared by recent neurocomputational models of decision making is that the subthalamic nucleus (STN), a small nucleus in the basal ganglia, plays a pivotal role in strategic adjustments of response thresholds. In this talk I will first discuss the anatomo-functional role of the STN including ultra-high resolution 7Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from post-mortem and in-vivo brains. I will provide a critical overview challenging the current academic consensus that the STN consists of three distinct parts, each selectively associated with cognitive, emotional, and motor functioning. I will then present structural and functional 3T and 7T MRI data highlighting the role of the STN in strategic decision-making. The results will be discussed in light of the STN´s functional role in both healthy and clinical populations.