The goal circuit model: a hierarchical multi-route model of the acquisition and control of routine sequential action in humans

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Cooper, Richard P. ; Ruh, N. ; Mareschal, Denis (2014)

Human control of action in routine situations involves a flexible interplay between (a) task dependent serial ordering constraints, (b) top-down, or intentional, control processes and (c) bottom-up, or environmentally-triggered, affordances. Additionally, the interaction between these influences is modulated by learning mechanisms that, over time, appear to reduce the need for top-down control processes while still allowing those processes to intervene at any point if necessary or if desired. We present a model of the acquisition and control of goal-directed action that goes beyond existing models by operationalizing an interface between two putative systems – a routine and a non-routine system – thereby demonstrating how explicitly represented goals can interact with the emergent task representations that develop through learning in the routine system. The gradual emergence of task representations offers an explanation for the transfer of control with experience from the non-routine goal-based system to the routine system. At the same time it allows action selection to be sensitive both to environmental triggers and to biasing from multiple levels within the goal system.
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