Carls-Diamante, Sidney

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Repeating patterns : Predictive processing suggests an aesthetic learning role of the basal ganglia in repetitive stereotyped behaviors

2022-09-08, Spee, Blanca T. M., Sladky, Ronald, Fingerhut, Joerg, Laciny, Alice, Kraus, Christoph, Carls-Diamante, Sidney, Brücke, Christof, Pelowski, Matthew, Treven, Marco

Recurrent, unvarying, and seemingly purposeless patterns of action and cognition are part of normal development, but also feature prominently in several neuropsychiatric conditions. Repetitive stereotyped behaviors (RSBs) can be viewed as exaggerated forms of learned habits and frequently correlate with alterations in motor, limbic, and associative basal ganglia circuits. However, it is still unclear how altered basal ganglia feedback signals actually relate to the phenomenological variability of RSBs. Why do behaviorally overlapping phenomena sometimes require different treatment approaches−for example, sensory shielding strategies versus exposure therapy for autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder, respectively? Certain clues may be found in recent models of basal ganglia function that extend well beyond action selection and motivational control, and have implications for sensorimotor integration, prediction, learning under uncertainty, as well as aesthetic learning. In this paper, we systematically compare three exemplary conditions with basal ganglia involvement, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and autism spectrum conditions, to gain a new understanding of RSBs. We integrate clinical observations and neuroanatomical and neurophysiological alterations with accounts employing the predictive processing framework. Based on this review, we suggest that basal ganglia feedback plays a central role in preconditioning cortical networks to anticipate self-generated, movement-related perception. In this way, basal ganglia feedback appears ideally situated to adjust the salience of sensory signals through precision weighting of (external) new sensory information, relative to the precision of (internal) predictions based on prior generated models. Accordingly, behavioral policies may preferentially rely on new data versus existing knowledge, in a spectrum spanning between novelty and stability. RSBs may then represent compensatory or reactive responses, respectively, at the opposite ends of this spectrum. This view places an important role of aesthetic learning on basal ganglia feedback, may account for observed changes in creativity and aesthetic experience in basal ganglia disorders, is empirically testable, and may inform creative art therapies in conditions characterized by stereotyped behaviors.