Prefrontal mechanisms of behavioral flexibility, emotion regulation and value updating.
ABSTRACT: Two ideas have dominated neuropsychology concerning the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). One holds that OFC regulates emotion and enhances behavioral flexibility through inhibitory control. The other ascribes to OFC a role in updating valuations on the basis of current motivational states. Neuroimaging, neurophysiological and clinical observations are consistent with either or both hypotheses. Although these hypotheses are compatible in principle, we present results supporting the latter view of OFC function and arguing against the former. We found that excitotoxic, fiber-sparing lesions confined to OFC in monkeys did not alter either behavioral flexibility, as measured by object reversal learning, or emotion regulation, as assessed by fear of snakes. A follow-up experiment indicated that a previously reported loss of inhibitory control resulted from damage to nearby fiber tracts and not from OFC dysfunction. Thus, OFC has a more specialized role in reward-guided behavior and emotion than has been thought, a function that includes value updating.
Project description:Advantageous foraging choices benefit from an estimation of two aspects of a resource's value: its current desirability and availability. Both orbitofrontal and ventrolateral prefrontal areas contribute to updating these valuations, but their precise roles remain unclear. To explore their specializations, we trained macaque monkeys on two tasks: one required updating representations of a predicted outcome's desirability, as adjusted by selective satiation, and the other required updating representations of an outcome's availability, as indexed by its probability. We evaluated performance on both tasks in three groups of monkeys: unoperated controls and those with selective, fiber-sparing lesions of either the OFC or VLPFC. Representations that depend on the VLPFC but not the OFC play a necessary role in choices based on outcome availability; in contrast, representations that depend on the OFC but not the VLPFC play a necessary role in choices based on outcome desirability.
Project description:Behavioral inflexibility is a common symptom of neuropsychiatric disorders which can have a major detrimental impact on quality of life. While the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been strongly implicated in behavioral flexibility in rodents across paradigms, our understanding of how the OFC mediates these behaviors is rapidly adapting. Here we examined neuronal activity during reversal learning by coupling in vivo electrophysiological recording with a mouse touch-screen learning paradigm to further elucidate the role of the OFC in updating reward value. Single unit and oscillatory activity was recorded during well-learned discrimination and 3 distinct phases of reversal (early, chance and well-learned). During touch-screen performance, OFC neuronal firing tracked rewarded responses following a previous rewarded choice when behavior was well learned, but shifted to primarily track repeated errors following a previous error in early reversal. Spike activity tracked rewarded choices independent of previous trial outcome during chance reversal, and returned to the initial pattern of reward response at criterion. Analysis of spike coupling to oscillatory local field potentials showed that less frequently occurring behaviors had significantly fewer neurons locked to any oscillatory frequency. Together, these data support the role of the OFC in tracking the value of individual choices to inform future responses and suggests that oscillatory signaling may be involved in propagating responses to increase or decrease the likelihood that action is taken in the future. They further support the use of touch-screen paradigms in preclinical studies to more closely model clinical approaches to measuring behavioral flexibility.
Project description:Recent hypotheses have posited that orbital frontal cortex (OFC) is important for using inferred consequences to guide behavior. Less clear is OFC's contribution to goal-directed or model-based behavior, where the decision to act is controlled by previous experience with the consequence or outcome. Investigating OFC's role in learning about changed outcomes separate from decision-making is not trivial and often the two are confounded. Here we adapted an incentive learning task to mice, where we investigated processes controlling experience-based outcome updating independent from inferred action control. We found chemogenetic OFC attenuation did not alter the ability to perceive motivational state-induced changes in outcome value but did prevent the experience-based updating of this change. Optogenetic inhibition of OFC excitatory neuron activity selectively when experiencing an outcome change disrupted the ability to update, leaving mice unable to infer the appropriate behavior. Our findings support a role for OFC in learning that controls decision-making.
Project description:Dysfunction of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) impairs the ability of individuals to flexibly adapt behavior to changing stimulus-reward (S-R) contingencies. Impaired flexibility also results from interventions that alter serotonin (5-HT) and dopamine (DA) transmission in the OFC and dorsomedial striatum (DMS). However, it is unclear whether similar mechanisms underpin naturally occurring variations in behavioral flexibility. In the present study, we used a spatial-discrimination serial reversal procedure to investigate interindividual variability in behavioral flexibility in rats. We show that flexibility on this task is improved following systemic administration of the 5-HT reuptake inhibitor citalopram and by low doses of the DA reuptake inhibitor GBR12909. Rats in the upper quintile of the distribution of perseverative responses during repeated S-R reversals showed significantly reduced levels of the 5-HT metabolite, 5-hydroxy-indoleacetic acid, in the OFC. Additionally, 5-HT2A receptor binding in the OFC of mid- and high-quintile rats was significantly reduced compared with rats in the low-quintile group. These perturbations were accompanied by an increase in the expression of monoamine oxidase-A (MAO-A) and MAO-B in the lateral OFC and by a decrease in the expression of MAO-A, MAO-B, and tryptophan hydroxylase in the dorsal raphé nucleus of highly perseverative rats. We found no evidence of significant differences in markers of DA and 5-HT function in the DMS or MAO expression in the ventral tegmental area of low- vs high-perseverative rats. These findings indicate that diminished serotonergic tone in the OFC may be an endophenotype that predisposes to behavioral inflexibility and other forms of compulsive behavior.
Project description:The ability to flexibly respond to changes in the environment is critical for adaptive behavior. Reversal learning (RL) procedures test adaptive response updating when contingencies are altered. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain areas that support specific RL components. We compared neural responses to RL and initial learning (acquisition) to isolate reversal-related brain activation independent of cognitive control processes invoked during initial feedback-based learning. Lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) was more activated during reversal than acquisition, suggesting its relevance for reformation of established stimulus-response associations. In addition, the dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC) and right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG) correlated with change in postreversal accuracy. Because optimal RL likely requires suppression of a prior learned response, we hypothesized that similar regions serve both response inhibition (RI) and inhibition of learned associations during reversal. However, reversal-specific responding and stopping (requiring RI and assessed via the stop-signal task) revealed distinct frontal regions. Although RI-related regions do not appear to support inhibition of prepotent learned associations, a subset of these regions, dACC and rIFG, guide actions consistent with current reward contingencies. These regions and lateral OFC represent distinct neural components that support behavioral flexibility important for adaptive learning.
Project description:We investigated how different subregions of rodent prefrontal cortex contribute to value-based decision making, by comparing neural signals related to animal's choice, its outcome, and action value in orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of rats performing a dynamic two-armed bandit task. Neural signals for upcoming action selection arose in the mPFC, including the anterior cingulate cortex, only immediately before the behavioral manifestation of animal's choice, suggesting that rodent prefrontal cortex is not involved in advanced action planning. Both OFC and mPFC conveyed signals related to the animal's past choices and their outcomes over multiple trials, but neural signals for chosen value and reward prediction error were more prevalent in the OFC. Our results suggest that rodent OFC and mPFC serve distinct roles in value-based decision making and that the OFC plays a prominent role in updating the values of outcomes expected from chosen actions.
Project description:Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is widely held to be critical for flexibility in decision-making when established choice values change. OFC's role in such decision making was investigated in macaques performing dynamically changing three-armed bandit tasks. After selective OFC lesions, animals were impaired at discovering the identity of the highest value stimulus following reversals. However, this was not caused either by diminished behavioral flexibility or by insensitivity to reinforcement changes, but instead by paradoxical increases in switching between all stimuli. This pattern of choice behavior could be explained by a causal role for OFC in appropriate contingent learning, the process by which causal responsibility for a particular reward is assigned to a particular choice. After OFC lesions, animals' choice behavior no longer reflected the history of precise conjoint relationships between particular choices and particular rewards. Nonetheless, OFC-lesioned animals could still approximate choice-outcome associations using a recency-weighted history of choices and rewards.
Project description:Impairments in flexible goal-directed decisions, often examined by reversal learning, are associated with behavioral abnormalities characterized by impulsiveness and disinhibition. Although the lateral orbital frontal cortex (OFC) has been consistently implicated in reversal learning, it is still unclear whether this region is involved in negative feedback processing, behavioral control, or both, and whether reward and punishment might have different effects on lateral OFC involvement. Using a relatively large sample (N?=?47), and a categorical learning task with either monetary reward or moderate electric shock as feedback, we found overlapping activations in the right lateral OFC (and adjacent insula) for reward and punishment reversal learning when comparing correct reversal trials with correct acquisition trials, whereas we found overlapping activations in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) when negative feedback signaled contingency change. The right lateral OFC and DLPFC also showed greater sensitivity to punishment than did their left homologues, indicating an asymmetry in how punishment is processed. We propose that the right lateral OFC and anterior insula are important for transforming affective feedback to behavioral adjustment, whereas the right DLPFC is involved in higher level attention control. These results provide insight into the neural mechanisms of reversal learning and behavioral flexibility, which can be leveraged to understand risky behaviors among vulnerable populations.
Project description:The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is critical for behavioral adaptation in response to changes in reward value. Here we investigated, in rats, the role of OFC and, specifically, serotonergic neurotransmission within OFC in a reinforcer devaluation task (which measures behavioral flexibility). This task used two visual cues, each predicting one of two foods, with the spatial position (left-right) of the cues above two levers pseudorandomized across trials. An instrumental action (lever press) was required for reinforcer delivery. After training, rats received either excitotoxic OFC lesions made by NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartic acid), serotonin-specific OFC lesions made by 5,7-DHT (5,7-dihydroxytryptamine), or sham lesions. In sham-lesioned rats, devaluation of one food (by feeding to satiety) significantly decreased responding to the cue associated with that food, when both cues were presented simultaneously during extinction. Both types of OFC lesions disrupted the devaluation effect. In contrast, extinction learning was not affected by serotonin-specific lesions and was only mildly retarded in rats with excitotoxic lesions. Thus, serotonin within OFC is necessary for appropriately adjusting behavior toward cues that predict reward but not for reducing responses in the absence of reward. Our results are the first to demonstrate that serotonin in OFC is necessary for reinforcer devaluation, but not extinction.
Project description:Prelimbic-infralimbic cortex (PL-IL) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) influence behavioral flexibility in the rat. The authors tested the effects of PL-IL or OFC infusion with the GABA agonist muscimol in the context of 2 flexible responding tasks: strategy switching and reversal. Muscimol infusion into PL-IL impaired retention of strategy switches but not reversals, whereas muscimol infusion into OFC impaired retention of reversals but not switches. However, whereas training in repeated reversals did not remove the requirement of PL-IL for switch retention (E. L. Rich & M. L. Shapiro, 2007), training in repeated switches did remove the requirement of OFC for reversal retention. Thus, activity during strategy switches was sufficient to initiate learning and remove the requirement of OFC in later reversals.