Neurocognitive mechanisms of action control: resisting the call of the Sirens

Authors

  • K. Richard Ridderinkhof,

    Corresponding author
    1. Amsterdam Center for the Study of Adaptive Control in Brain and Behavior (Acacia), Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    • Amsterdam Center for the Study of Adaptive Control in Brain and Behavior (Acacia), Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Birte U. Forstmann,

    1. Spinoza Center for Neuroimaging, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Scott A. Wylie,

    1. Department of Neurology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA
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  • Borís Burle,

    1. University of Aix-Marseilles, CNRS, Marseilles, France
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  • Wery P. M. van den Wildenberg

    1. Amsterdam Center for the Study of Adaptive Control in Brain and Behavior (Acacia), Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Abstract

An essential facet of adaptive and versatile behavior is the ability to prioritize actions in response to dynamically changing circumstances. The field of potential actions afforded by a situation is shaped by many factors, such as environmental demands, past experiences, and prepotent tendencies. Selection among action affordances can be driven by deliberate, intentional processes as a product of goal-directed behavior and by extraneous stimulus–action associations as established inherently or through learning. We first review the neurocognitive mechanisms putatively linked to these intention-driven and association-driven routes of action selection. Next, we review the neurocognitive mechanisms engaged to inhibit action affordances that are no longer relevant or that interfere with goal-directed action selection. Optimal action control is viewed as a dynamic interplay between selection and suppression mechanisms, which is achieved by an elaborate circuitry of interconnected cortical regions (most prominently the pre-supplementary motor area and the right inferior frontal cortex) and basal ganglia structures (most prominently the dorsal striatum and the subthalamic nucleus). WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 174–192 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.99

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