Goal-direction and top-down control
Timothy J. Buschman and Earl K. Miller
We review the neural mechanisms that support top-down control of behavior. We suggest that goal-directed behavior utilizes two systems that work in concert. A basal ganglia-centered system quickly learns simple, fixed goal-directed behaviors while a prefrontal cortex-centered system gradually learns more complex (abstract or long-term) goal-directed behaviors. Interactions between these two systems allows top-down control mechanisms to learn how to direct behavior towards a goal but also how to guide behavior when faced with a novel situation.