A Biologically Plausible Action Selection System for Cognitive Architectures: Implications of Basal Ganglia Anatomy for Learning and Decision‐Making Models

Cognitive Science 42 (2):457-490 (2018)
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Abstract

Several attempts have been made previously to provide a biological grounding for cognitive architectures by relating their components to the computations of specific brain circuits. Often, the architecture's action selection system is identified with the basal ganglia. However, this identification overlooks one of the most important features of the basal ganglia—the existence of a direct and an indirect pathway that compete against each other. This characteristic has important consequences in decision-making tasks, which are brought to light by Parkinson's disease as well as genetic differences in dopamine receptors. This paper shows that a standard model of action selection in a cognitive architecture cannot replicate any of these findings, details an alternative solution that reconciles action selection in the architecture with the physiology of the basal ganglia, and extends the domain of application of cognitive architectures. The implication of this solution for other architectures and existing models are discussed.

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