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Choosing actions that result in advantageous outcomes is a fundamental function of nervous systems. All computational decision-making models contain a mechanism that controls the variability of (or confidence in) action selection, but its neural implementation is unclear-especially in humans. We investigated this mechanism using two influential decision-making frameworks: active inference (AI) and reinforcement learning (RL). In AI, the precision (inverse variance) of beliefs about policies controls action selection variability-similar to decision 'noise' parameters in RL-and is thought to be encoded by striatal dopamine signaling. We tested this hypothesis by administering a 'go/no-go' task to 75 healthy participants, and measuring striatal dopamine 2/3 receptor (D2/3R) availability in a subset (n = 25) using [11C]-(+)-PHNO positron emission tomography. In behavioral model comparison, RL performed best across the whole group but AI performed best in participants performing above chance levels. Limbic striatal D2/3R availability had linear relationships with AI policy precision (P = 0.029) as well as with RL irreducible decision 'noise' (P = 0.020), and this relationship with D2/3R availability was confirmed with a 'decision stochasticity' factor that aggregated across both models (P = 0.0006). These findings are consistent with occupancy of inhibitory striatal D2/3Rs decreasing the variability of action selection in humans.

Original publication




Journal article


Cereb Cortex

Publication Date





3573 - 3589


action selection, active inference, decision temperature, dopamine 2/3 receptors, go no-go task, reinforcement learning