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Goal-direction and top-down control

Buschman TJ and Miller EK

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 2014. 369 (1655): 20130471.

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We review the neural mechanisms that support top-down control of behaviour and suggest that goal-directed behaviour uses two systems that work in concert. A basal ganglia-centred system quickly learns simple, fixed goal-directed behaviours while a prefrontal cortex-centred system gradually learns more complex (abstract or long-term) goal-directed behaviours. Interactions between these two systems allow top-down control mechanisms to learn how to direct behaviour towards a goal but also how to guide behaviour when faced with a novel situation.

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