The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a small almond-shaped subcortical structure classically known for its role in motor inhibition through the indirect pathway within the basal ganglia. Little is known about the role of the STN in mediating cognitive functions in humans. Here, we explore the role of the STN in human subjects making decisions under conditions of uncertainty using single-neuron recordings and intermittent deep brain stimulation (DBS) during a financial decision-making task. Intraoperative single-neuronal data from the STN reveals that on high-uncertainty trials, spiking activity encodes the upcoming decision within a brief (500 ms) temporal window during the choice period, prior to the manifestation of the choice. Application of intermittent DBS selectively prior to the choice period alters decisions and biases subject behavior towards conservative wagers.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to the patients that participated in this study. This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NEI 1R01EY017658-01A1, NIDA 1R01NS063249, NIMH Conte Award MH086400, R25NS065743), the Klingenstein Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Dana Foundation, the Sackler Scholar Programme in Psychobiology and the American Brain Foundation/American Academy of Neurology. This research was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Cooperative Agreement Number W911NF-14-2-0045 issued by the Army Research Office contracting office in support of DARPA’S SUBNETS program. The views, opinions, and/or findings expressed are those of the author(s) and should not be interpreted as representing the official views or policies of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.