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Title: A framework for implicit planning : towards a cognitive/computational neuroscience theory of prefrontal cortex function
Author: De Pisapia, Nicola
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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In this thesis we review available experimental findings on rodents, monkeys and humans, and we suggest a unifying interpretation of the role of the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) in behaviour. We implement computational models to test this interpretation, and propose novel experiments. Our suggestion is, as also other researchers have proposed, that the PFC is involved in Planning, i.e. in evaluating which course of actions to execute in order to reach a goal. Unlike previous researchers, we emphasize and limit ourselves to unconscious aspects of Planning, and describe a view of this process that is quite close to Instrumental Conditioning, and doesn’t involve language, external measures of time (clocks), instructions or social interactions of any kind. Nonetheless unconscious Planning can be a quite complex activity. Under this interpretation, we show reward based computational models that, while mimicking some of the known neural properties of the PFC, can perform planning. One aspect on which we focus is the capacity of neurons in Dorsolateral PFC to code temporal information, namely when to expect task related events to occur. This is a core requirement to organize and plan complex behaviour. Another aspect on which we focus is the fundamental role played in the Planning process by the Basal Ganglia. As a plan is executed successfully several times, the Basal Ganglia build a chunked representations of the whole course of actions needed to reach a goal. At the same time the Posterior cortex retains the detailed information of how and where to execute these actions. This process allows the PFC to plan about more and more complex goals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available