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Different kinds of decision making can be categorized by their differential effect on the agent's current and future states as well as the computational challenges they pose. Here, we draw a distinction between within-state and state-change decision-making, and propose that a dedicated decision mechanism exists in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) that is specialized for state-change decisions. We set out a formal framework in which state change decisions may be made on the basis of the integrated momentary reward rate, over the intended time to be spent in a state. A key feature of this framework is that reward rate is expressed as a function of continuous time. We argue that dmPFC is suited for this type of decision making partly due to its ability to track the passage of time. This proposed function of dmPFC is placed in contrast to other evaluative systems such as the orbitofrontal cortex, which is important for careful deliberation within a specific model-space or option-space and within a decision strategy.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Opin Behav Sci

Publication Date





152 - 160