The neurocomputational bases of explore-exploit decision-making

Jeremy Hogeveen, Teagan S. Mullins, John D. Romero, Elizabeth Eversole, Kimberly Rogge-Obando, Andrew R. Mayer, Vincent D. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Flexible decision-making requires animals to forego immediate rewards (exploitation) and try novel choice options (exploration) to discover if they are preferable to familiar alternatives. Using the same task and a partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP) model to quantify the value of choices, we first determined that the computational basis for managing explore-exploit tradeoffs is conserved across monkeys and humans. We then used fMRI to identify where in the human brain the immediate value of exploitative choices and relative uncertainty about the value of exploratory choices were encoded. Consistent with prior neurophysiological evidence in monkeys, we observed divergent encoding of reward value and uncertainty in prefrontal and parietal regions, including frontopolar cortex, and parallel encoding of these computations in motivational regions including the amygdala, ventral striatum, and orbitofrontal cortex. These results clarify the interplay between prefrontal and motivational circuits that supports adaptive explore-exploit decisions in humans and nonhuman primates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1869-1879.e5
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • amygdala
  • computational modeling
  • decision-making
  • exploration
  • explore-exploit dilemma
  • fMRI
  • frontopolar cortex
  • reinforcement learning
  • reward
  • striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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