Differential coding of uncertain reward in rat insular and orbitofrontal cortex.
ABSTRACT: Anterior insular and orbitofrontal cortex (AIC and OFC, respectively) are known to play important roles in decision making under risk. However, risk-related AIC neural activity has not been investigated and it is controversial whether the rodent OFC conveys genuine risk signals. To address these issues, we examined AIC and OFC neuronal activity in rats responding to five distinct auditory cues predicting water reward with different probabilities. Both structures conveyed significant neural signals for reward, value and risk, with value and risk signals conjunctively coded. However, value signals were stronger and appeared earlier in the OFC, and many risk-coding OFC neurons responded only to the cue predicting certain (100%) reward. Also, AIC neurons tended to increase their activity for a prolonged time following a negative outcome and according to previously expected value. These results show that both the AIC and OFC convey neural signals related to reward uncertainty, but in different ways. The OFC might play an important role in encoding certain reward-biased, risk-modulated subjective value, whereas the AIC might convey prolonged negative outcome and disappointment signals.
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:Sucrose's sweet intensity is one attribute contributing to the overconsumption of high-energy palatable foods. However, it is not known how sucrose intensity is encoded and used to make perceptual decisions by neurons in taste-sensitive cortices. We trained rats in a sucrose intensity discrimination task and found that sucrose evoked a widespread response in neurons recorded in posterior-Insula (pIC), anterior-Insula (aIC), and Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Remarkably, only a few Intensity-selective neurons conveyed the most information about sucrose's intensity, indicating that for sweetness the gustatory system uses a compact and distributed code. Sucrose intensity was encoded in both firing-rates and spike-timing. The pIC, aIC, and OFC neurons tracked movement direction, with OFC neurons yielding the most robust response. aIC and OFC neurons encoded the subject's choices, whereas all three regions tracked reward omission. Overall, these multimodal areas provide a neural representation of perceived sucrose intensity, and of task-related information underlying perceptual decision-making.
Project description:There is general consensus that dopaminergic midbrain neurons signal reward prediction errors, computed as the difference between expected and received reward value. However, recent work in rodents shows that these neurons also respond to errors related to inferred value and sensory features, indicating an expanded role for dopamine beyond learning cached values. Here we utilize a transreinforcer reversal learning task and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to test whether prediction error signals in the human midbrain are evoked when the expected identity of an appetitive food odor reward is violated, while leaving value matched. We found that midbrain fMRI responses to identity and value errors are correlated, suggesting a common neural origin for these error signals. Moreover, changes in reward-identity expectations, encoded in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), are directly related to midbrain activity, demonstrating that identity-based error signals in the midbrain support the formation of outcome identity expectations in OFC.
Project description:Both orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and ventral striatum (vStr) have been identified as key structures that represent information about value in decision-making tasks. However, the dynamics of how this information is processed are not yet understood. We recorded ensembles of cells from OFC and vStr in rats engaged in the spatial adjusting delay-discounting task, a decision-making task that involves a trade-off between delay to and magnitude of reward. Ventral striatal neural activity signalled information about reward before the rat's decision, whereas such reward-related signals were absent in OFC until after the animal had committed to its decision. These data support models in which vStr is directly involved in action selection, but OFC processes decision-related information afterwards that can be used to compare the predicted and actual consequences of behaviour.
Project description:Human orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has long been implicated in value-based decision making. In recent years, convergent evidence from human and model organisms has further elucidated its role in representing reward-related computations underlying decision making. However, a detailed description of these processes remains elusive due in part to (1) limitations in our ability to observe human OFC neural dynamics at the timescale of decision processes and (2) methodological and interspecies differences that make it challenging to connect human and animal findings or to resolve discrepancies when they arise. Here, we sought to address these challenges by conducting multi-electrode electrocorticography (ECoG) recordings in neurosurgical patients during economic decision making to elucidate the electrophysiological signature, sub-second temporal profile, and anatomical distribution of reward-related computations within human OFC. We found that high-frequency activity (HFA) (70-200 Hz) reflected multiple valuation components grouped in two classes of valuation signals that were dissociable in temporal profile and information content: (1) fast, transient responses reflecting signals associated with choice and outcome processing, including anticipated risk and outcome regret, and (2) sustained responses explicitly encoding what happened in the immediately preceding trial. Anatomically, these responses were widely distributed in partially overlapping networks, including regions in the central OFC (Brodmann areas 11 and 13), which have been consistently implicated in reward processing in animal single-unit studies. Together, these results integrate insights drawn from human and animal studies and provide evidence for a role of human OFC in representing multiple reward computations.
Project description:We examined the contribution of the amygdala to value signals within orbital prefrontal cortex (OFC) and medial prefrontal cortex (MFC). On each trial, monkeys chose between two stimuli that were associated with different quantities of reward. In intact monkeys, as expected, neurons in both OFC and MFC signaled the reward quantity associated with stimuli. Contrasted with MFC, OFC contained a larger proportion of neurons encoding reward quantity and did so with faster response latencies. Removing the amygdala eliminated these differences, mainly by decreasing value coding in OFC. Similar decreases occurred in OFC immediately before and after reward delivery. Although the amygdala projects to both OFC and MFC, we found that it has its greatest influence over reward-value coding in OFC. Notably, amygdala lesions did not abolish value coding in OFC, which shows that OFC's representations of the value of objects, choices, and outcomes depends, in large part, on other sources.
Project description:Nervous systems must encode information about the identity of expected outcomes to make adaptive decisions. However, the neural mechanisms underlying identity-specific value signaling remain poorly understood. By manipulating the value and identity of appetizing food odors in a pattern-based imaging paradigm of human classical conditioning, we were able to identify dissociable predictive representations of identity-specific reward in orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and identity-general reward in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Reward-related functional coupling between OFC and olfactory (piriform) cortex and between vmPFC and amygdala revealed parallel pathways that support identity-specific and -general predictive signaling. The demonstration of identity-specific value representations in OFC highlights a role for this region in model-based behavior and reveals mechanisms by which appetitive behavior can go awry.
Project description:Memory can inform goal-directed behavior by linking current opportunities to past outcomes. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) may guide value-based responses by integrating the history of stimulus-reward associations into expected outcomes, representations of predicted hedonic value and quality. Alternatively, the OFC may rapidly compute flexible "online" reward predictions by associating stimuli with the latest outcome. OFC neurons develop predictive codes when rats learn to associate arbitrary stimuli with outcomes, but the extent to which predictive coding depends on most recent events and the integrated history of rewards is unclear. To investigate how reward history modulates OFC activity, we recorded OFC ensembles as rats performed spatial discriminations that differed only in the number of rewarded trials between goal reversals. The firing rate of single OFC neurons distinguished identical behaviors guided by different goals. When >20 rewarded trials separated goal switches, OFC ensembles developed stable and anticorrelated population vectors that predicted overall choice accuracy and the goal selected in single trials. When <10 rewarded trials separated goal switches, OFC population vectors decorrelated rapidly after each switch, but did not develop anticorrelated firing patterns or predict choice accuracy. The results show that, whereas OFC signals respond rapidly to contingency changes, they predict choices only when reward history is relatively stable, suggesting that consecutive rewarded episodes are needed for OFC computations that integrate reward history into expected outcomes.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Adapting to changing contingencies and making decisions engages the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Previous work shows that OFC function can either improve or impair learning depending on reward stability, suggesting that OFC guides behavior optimally when contingencies apply consistently. The mechanisms that link reward history to OFC computations remain obscure. Here, we examined OFC unit activity as rodents performed tasks controlled by contingencies that varied reward history. When contingencies were stable, OFC neurons signaled past, present, and pending events; when contingencies were unstable, past and present coding persisted, but predictive coding diminished. The results suggest that OFC mechanisms require stable contingencies across consecutive episodes to integrate reward history, represent predicted outcomes, and inform goal-directed choices.
Project description:Normalization is a common cortical computation widely observed in sensory perception, but its importance in perception of reward value and decision making remains largely unknown. We examined (1) whether normalized value signals occur in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and (2) whether changes in behavioral task context influence the normalized representation of value. We record medial OFC (mOFC) single neuron activity in awake-behaving monkeys during a reward-guided lottery task. mOFC neurons signal the relative values of options via a divisive normalization function when animals freely choose between alternatives. The normalization model, however, performed poorly in a variant of the task where only one of the two possible choice options yields a reward and the other was certain not to yield a reward (so called: "forced choice"). The existence of such context-specific value normalization may suggest that the mOFC contributes valuation signals critical for economic decision making when meaningful alternative options are available.
Project description:An optimal choice among alternative behavioral options requires precise anticipatory representations of their possible outcomes. A fundamental question is how such anticipated outcomes are represented in the brain. Reward coding at the level of single cells in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) follows a more heterogeneous coding scheme than suggested by studies using functional MRI (fMRI) in humans. Using a combination of multivariate pattern classification and fMRI we show that the reward value of sensory cues can be decoded from distributed fMRI patterns in the OFC. This distributed representation is compatible with previous reports from animal electrophysiology that show that reward is encoded by different neural populations with opposing coding schemes. Importantly, the fMRI patterns representing specific values during anticipation are similar to those that emerge during the receipt of reward. Furthermore, we show that the degree of this coding similarity is related to subjects' ability to use value information to guide behavior. These findings narrow the gap between reward coding in humans and animals and corroborate the notion that value representations in OFC are independent of whether reward is anticipated or actually received.