The Why, What, Where, When and How of Goal Directed Choice: neuronal and computational principles

TitleThe Why, What, Where, When and How of Goal Directed Choice: neuronal and computational principles
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsVerschure PFMJ, Pennartz C, Pezzulo G
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of The Royal Society - Biological Sciences
Date Published11/2014
Keywordscognition, computational modelling, control, decision-making, distributed adaptive, embodied, goal, goal-directed behaviour, reward

To define the How of action, goal-directed animals must Q1 solve four specific: ‘What do I need, Why, Where and When can this be obtained?’ or the H4W problem. Here, we elucidate the principles underlying the neuronal solutions to H4W using a combination of neurobiological and neurorobotic approaches. First, we analyse H4W from a system-level perspective by mapping its objectives onto the Distributed Adaptive Control embodied cognitive architecture which sees the generation of adaptive action in the real world as the primary task of the brain rather than optimally solving abstract problems. We next map this functional decomposition to the architecture of the rodent brain to test its consistency. Following this approach, we propose that the mammalian brain solves the H4W problem on the basis of multiple kinds of outcome predictions, integrating central representations of needs and drives (e.g. hypothalamus), valence (e.g. amygdala), world, self and task state spaces (e.g. neocortex, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, respectively) combined with multi-modal selection (e.g. basal ganglia). In our analysis, goal-directed behaviour results from a well-structured architecture in which goals are bootstrapped on the basis of predefined needs, valence and multiple learning, memory and planning mechanisms rather than being generated by a singular computation.