Similar network compositions, but distinct neural dynamics underlying belief updating in environments with and without explicit outcomes

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Classic decision theories typically assume the presence of explicit value-based outcomes after action selections to update beliefs about action-outcome contingencies. However, ecological environments are often opaque, and it remains unclear whether the neural dynamics underlying belief updating vary under conditions characterized by the presence or absence of such explicit value-based information, after each choice selection. We investigated this question in healthy humans (n = 28) using Bayesian inference and two multi-option fMRI tasks: a multi-armed bandit task, and a probabilistic perceptual task, respectively with and without explicit value-based feedback after choice selections. Model-based fMRI analysis revealed a network encoding belief updating which did not change depending on the task. More precisely, we found a confidence-building network that included anterior hippocampus, amygdala, and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), which became more active as beliefs about action-outcome probabilities were confirmed by newly acquired information. Despite these consistent responses across tasks, dynamic causal modeling estimated that the network dynamics changed depending on the presence or absence of trial-by-trial value-based outcomes. In the task deprived of immediate feedback, the hippocampus increased its influence towards both amygdala and mPFC, in association with increased strength in the confidence signal. However, the opposite causal relations were found (i.e., from both mPFC and amygdala towards the hippocampus), in presence of immediate outcomes. This finding revealed an asymmetric relationship between decision confidence computations, which were based on similar computational models across tasks, and neural implementation, which varied depending on the availability of outcomes after choice selections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118821
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2022


  • Amygdala
  • Anterior hippocampus
  • Confidence
  • Dynamic causal modeling
  • Medial prefrontal cortex


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