How does the human brain make decisions? What processes are happening that cause you (or you cause (this phrasing shows the difference between free will and determinism, but that’s a topic for a later article)) to make decisions? To completely answer this question lies beyond the scope of this article, instead we’ll focus on a specific part of the human decision-making process: the basal ganglia.

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The Basal Ganglia is a group of neurons is located near the brain stem (hence basal) and is connected to a wide variety of other brain systems.

**The basal ganglia is essentially an action-selection system. **The brain is made up of many different systems each vying for control (feeding system, fear system, etc.) and the basal ganglia is hypothesized to control which system is in control during given circumstances. However, once again, this is just a hypothesis: like all other parts of the brain, the function of the basal ganglia is not completely understood.

The basal ganglia has been associated with both cognitive-level decision making and movement-based decision making. It is connected to many areas in the brain including motor functions(skeletal muscle control) and oculomotor functions (eye movement control), but also the prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex, which are not motor control areas directly but are associated with higher-level decision making. Given all these inputs, the basal ganglia decides which system should be activated based on the circumstances, and then sends back inhibitory signals back to all the other systems it doesn’t want to be activated in a parallel loop process.

#decision-making #neuroscience #artificial-intelligence #brain #future #artificial intelligence

Basal Ganglia Action Selection & Reinforcement Learning
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