CE37 - Neurosciences intégratives et cognitives

Trading off effort against time in reward-oriented behaviors: a cross-species investigation at the behavioral and neuronal levels – BasalCost

Submission summary

When we engage in daily reward-oriented behaviors such as reaching for a glass of wine or walking to meet some friends, we trade effort against time because immediate rewards are more valuable than delayed ones. Thus, effort and time can be considered as two interdependent costs that must be optimized to maximize the utility of a particular action. Still, how time and effort interact to affect both reward-oriented decisions and movements has not been investigated comprehensively. Moreover, how the effort-time tradeoff varies between individuals and across species is largely unknown. The first objective of our proposal is to investigate and compare how humans, monkeys, and rats trade effort against time in similar foraging tasks allowing comparable and selective manipulations of these two costs. Results will be compared between species through the common framework of optimal foraging theory and the predictions of the marginal value theorem. The aim is to identify general and species-specific principles by which time and effort influence foraging decisions and movements with direct relevance for daily behaviors of humans and animals. The second objective of our proposal is to investigate how the effort-time tradeoff is implemented in the brain. Specifically, the dorsal striatum and downstream regions (internal and external segments of the globus pallidus) have recently been implicated in the control of movement vigor and the speed of decision-making but whether these functions are a consequence of an effort-time tradeoff computed within this sensorimotor basal ganglia circuit has not been investigated. Taking advantage of the multi-level (cellular and circuit) neurophysiological tools available in rats and monkeys, we will investigate whether and how that dorsal striatum and globus pallidus influence the effort-time tradeoff in the context of foraging behaviors. At the network level, we hypothesize that time and effort are integrated along the basal ganglia such that its output nuclei generate a signal proportional to the utility of a given action and modulate neuronal activity in neocortical regions implicated in decision-making and motor control processes. At a more cellular level, we will test the hypothesis that the striatal projection neurons forming the direct and indirect basal ganglia pathways bidirectionally control this utility (output) function and, consequently, the effort-time tradeoff. Altogether, this proposal aims at furthering our understanding of how effort and time impact decision-making and movements, at the computational, behavioral and neuronal levels and across motor repertoires and species. Because several prevalent neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease or depression are associated with alterations of both the time-effort tradeoff and basal ganglia function, our proposal will directly impact our understanding of these diseases and pave the way to new behavioral and neuronal treatments to alleviate the human and societal costs associated with such disorders.

Project coordination

David ROBBE (Institut national de la sante et de la recherche medicale)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CRNL Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences de Lyon
INMED Institut national de la sante et de la recherche medicale
CIAMS UPSaclay - Complexité, Innovation, Activités Motrices et Sportives

Help of the ANR 790,815 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2022 - 60 Months

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