Pallidal neuromodulation of the explore/exploit trade-off in decision-making

Ana Luísa de A. Marcelino, Owen Gray, Bassam Al-Fatly, William Gilmour, J. Douglas Steele, Andrea A. Kühn, Tom Gilbertson (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Every decision that we make involves a conflict between exploiting our current knowledge of an action’s value or exploring alternative courses of action that might lead to a better, or worse outcome. The sub-cortical nuclei that make up the basal ganglia have been proposed as a neural circuit that may contribute to resolving this explore-exploit ‘dilemma’. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effects of neuromodulating the basal ganglia’s output nucleus, the globus pallidus interna, in patients who had undergone deep brain stimulation (DBS) for isolated dystonia. Neuromodulation enhanced the number of exploratory choices to the lower value option in a 2-armed bandit probabilistic reversal-learning task. Enhanced exploration was explained by a reduction in the rate of evidence accumulation (drift rate) in a reinforcement learning drift diffusion model. We estimated the functional connectivity profile between the stimulating DBS electrode and the rest of the brain using a normative functional connectome derived from heathy controls. Variation in the extent of neuromodulation induced exploration between patients was predicted by the degree of functional connectivity between the stimulating electrode and distributed network of cortical regions. We conclude that the basal ganglia’s output nucleus, the globus pallidus interna, can adaptively modify decision choice when faced with the dilemma to explore or exploit.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere79642
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2023


  • Basal Gangli
  • Deep Brain Stimulation
  • Neuromodulation
  • Globus Pallidus Interna
  • Explore-Exploit dilemma
  • basal ganglia
  • neuroscience
  • explore-exploit
  • deep brain stimulation
  • neuromodulation
  • drift diffusion model
  • globus pallidus interna
  • human

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Neuroscience


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