Common and Distinct Functional Brain Networks for Intuitive and Deliberate Decision Making

Burak Erdeniz, D. John Done

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Reinforcement learning studies in rodents and primates demonstrate that goal-directed and habitual choice behaviors are mediated through different fronto-striatal systems, but the evidence is less clear in humans. In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were collected whilst participants ( n = 20) performed a conditional associative learning task in which blocks of novel conditional stimuli (CS) required a deliberate choice, and blocks of familiar CS required an intuitive choice. Using standard subtraction analysis for fMRI event-related designs, activation shifted from the dorso-fronto-parietal network, which involves dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) for deliberate choice of novel CS, to ventro-medial frontal (VMPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex for intuitive choice of familiar CS. Supporting this finding, psycho-physiological interaction (PPI) analysis, using the peak active areas within the PFC for novel and familiar CS as seed regions, showed functional coupling between caudate and DLPFC when processing novel CS and VMPFC when processing familiar CS. These findings demonstrate separable systems for deliberate and intuitive processing, which is in keeping with rodent and primate reinforcement learning studies, although in humans they operate in a dynamic, possibly synergistic, manner particularly at the level of the striatum.

Original languageEnglish
Article number174
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2019


  • intuitive decision; deliberate decision; striatum; novelty; automated cognition; reinforcement learning; fMRI
  • fMRI
  • Intuitive decision
  • Striatum
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Deliberate decision
  • Automated cognition
  • Novelty


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