Subthalamic nucleus stimulation reverses mediofrontal influence over decision threshold

James F. Cavanagh, Thomas V. Wiecki, Michael X. Cohen, Christina M. Figueroa, Johan Samanta, Scott J. Sherman, Michael J. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

449 Scopus citations


It takes effort and time to tame one's impulses. Although medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is broadly implicated in effortful control over behavior, the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is specifically thought to contribute by acting as a brake on cortico-striatal function during decision conflict, buying time until the right decision can be made. Using the drift diffusion model of decision making, we found that trial-to-trial increases in mPFC activity (EEG theta power, 4g - 8 Hz) were related to an increased threshold for evidence accumulation (decision threshold) as a function of conflict. Deep brain stimulation of the STN in individuals with Parkinson's disease reversed this relationship, resulting in impulsive choice. In addition, intracranial recordings of the STN area revealed increased activity (2.5g - 5 Hz) during these same high-conflict decisions. Activity in these slow frequency bands may reflect a neural substrate for corticog - basal ganglia communication regulating decision processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1462-1467
Number of pages6
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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