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Journal Articles Human Brain Mapping Year : 2020

Dark Control: The Default Mode Network as a Reinforcement Learning Agent

Abstract

The default mode network (DMN) is believed to subserve the baseline mental activity in humans. Its higher energy consumption compared to other brain networks and its intimate coupling with conscious awareness are both pointing to an unknown overarching function. Many research streams speak in favor of an evolutionarily adaptive role in envisioning experience to anticipate the future. In the present work, we propose a process model that tries to explain how the DMN may implement continuous evaluation and prediction of the environment to guide behavior. The main purpose of DMN activity, we argue, may be described by Markov Decision Processes that optimize action policies via value estimates based through vicarious trial and error. Our formal perspective on DMN function naturally accommodates as special cases previous interpretations based on (1) predictive coding, (2) semantic associations, and (3) a sentinel role. Moreover, this process model for the neural optimization of complex behavior in the DMN offers parsimonious explanations for recent experimental findings in animals and humans.
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hal-02541119 , version 1 (12-04-2020)

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Elvis Dohmatob, Guillaume Dumas, Danilo Bzdok. Dark Control: The Default Mode Network as a Reinforcement Learning Agent. Human Brain Mapping, 2020, 41 (12), pp.3318-3341. ⟨10.1002/hbm.25019⟩. ⟨hal-02541119⟩
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