Lateral orbitofrontal cortex anticipates choices and integrates prior with current information.
ABSTRACT: Adaptive behavior requires integrating prior with current information to anticipate upcoming events. Brain structures related to this computation should bring relevant signals from the recent past into the present. Here we report that rats can integrate the most recent prior information with sensory information, thereby improving behavior on a perceptual decision-making task with outcome-dependent past trial history. We find that anticipatory signals in the orbitofrontal cortex about upcoming choice increase over time and are even present before stimulus onset. These neuronal signals also represent the stimulus and relevant second-order combinations of past state variables. The encoding of choice, stimulus and second-order past state variables resides, up to movement onset, in overlapping populations. The neuronal representation of choice before stimulus onset and its build-up once the stimulus is presented suggest that orbitofrontal cortex plays a role in transforming immediate prior and stimulus information into choices using a compact state-space representation.
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:Neurons in primary sensory cortex encode a variety of stimulus features upon perceptual learning. However, it is unclear whether the acquired stimulus selectivity remains stable when the same input is perceived in a different context. Here, we monitor the activity of individual neurons in the mouse primary somatosensory cortex during reward-based texture discrimination. We track their stimulus selectivity before and after changing reward contingencies, which allows us to identify various classes of neurons. We find neurons that stably represented a texture or the upcoming behavioral choice, but the majority is dynamic. Among those, a subpopulation of neurons regains texture selectivity contingent on the associated reward value. These value-sensitive neurons forecast the onset of learning by displaying a distinct and transient increase in activity, depending on past behavioral experience. Thus, stimulus selectivity of excitatory neurons during perceptual learning is dynamic and largely relies on behavioral contingencies, even in primary sensory cortex.
Project description:Signals representing the value assigned to stimuli at the time of choice have been repeatedly observed in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Yet it remains unknown how these value representations are computed from sensory and memory representations in more posterior brain regions. We used electroencephalography (EEG) while subjects evaluated appetitive and aversive food items to study how event-related responses modulated by stimulus value evolve over time. We found that value-related activity shifted from posterior to anterior, and from parietal to central to frontal sensors, across three major time windows after stimulus onset: 150-250 ms, 400-550 ms, and 700-800 ms. Exploratory localization of the EEG signal revealed a shifting network of activity moving from sensory and memory structures to areas associated with value coding, with stimulus value activity localized to vmPFC only from 400 ms onwards. Consistent with these results, functional connectivity analyses also showed a causal flow of information from temporal cortex to vmPFC. Thus, although value signals are present as early as 150 ms after stimulus onset, the value signals in vmPFC appear relatively late in the choice process, and seem to reflect the integration of incoming information from sensory and memory related regions.
Project description:Adaptive action selection during stimulus categorization is an important feature of flexible behavior. To examine neural mechanism underlying this process, we trained mice to categorize the spatial frequencies of visual stimuli according to a boundary that changed between blocks of trials in a session. Using a model with a dynamic decision criterion, we found that sensory history was important for adaptive action selection after the switch of boundary. Bilateral inactivation of the secondary motor cortex (M2) impaired adaptive action selection by reducing the behavioral influence of sensory history. Electrophysiological recordings showed that M2 neurons carried more information about upcoming choice and previous sensory stimuli when sensorimotor association was being remapped than when it was stable. Thus, M2 causally contributes to flexible action selection during stimulus categorization, with the representations of upcoming choice and sensory history regulated by the demand to remap stimulus-action association.
Project description:Complex cognitive processes require sophisticated local processing but also interactions between distant brain regions. It is therefore critical to be able to study distant interactions between local computations and the neural representations they act on. Here we report two anatomically and computationally distinct learning signals in lateral orbitofrontal cortex (lOFC) and the dopaminergic ventral midbrain (VM) that predict trial-by-trial changes to a basic internal model in hippocampus. To measure local computations during learning and their interaction with neural representations, we coupled computational fMRI with trial-by-trial fMRI suppression. We find that suppression in a medial temporal lobe network changes trial-by-trial in proportion to stimulus-outcome associations. During interleaved choice trials, we identify learning signals that relate to outcome type in lOFC and to reward value in VM. These intervening choice feedback signals predicted the subsequent change to hippocampal suppression, suggesting a convergence of signals that update the flexible representation of stimulus-outcome associations.
Project description:Neural activity prior to movement onset contains essential information for predictive assistance for humans using brain-machine-interfaces (BMIs). Even though previous studies successfully predicted different goals for upcoming movements, it is unclear whether non-invasive recording signals contain the information to predict trial-by-trial behavioral variability under the same movement. In this paper, we examined the predictability of subsequent short or long reaction times (RTs) from magnetoencephalography (MEG) signals in a delayed-reach task. The difference in RTs was classified significantly above chance from 550?ms before the go-signal onset using the cortical currents in the premotor cortex. Significantly above-chance classification was performed in the lateral prefrontal and the right inferior parietal cortices at the late stage of the delay period. Thus, inter-trial variability in RTs is predictable information. Our study provides a proof-of-concept of the future development of non-invasive BMIs to prevent delayed movements.
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:Prior knowledge about our environment influences our actions. How does this knowledge evolve into a final action plan and how does the brain represent this? Here, we investigated this question in the monkey oculomotor system during self-guided search of natural scenes. In the frontal eye field (FEF), we found a subset of neurons, "Early neurons," that contain information about the upcoming saccade long before it is executed, often before the previous saccade had even ended. Crucially, much of this early information did not relate to the actual saccade that would eventually be selected. Rather, it related to prior information about the probabilities of possible upcoming saccades based on the presaccade fixation location. Nearer to the time of saccade onset, a greater proportion of these neurons' activities related to the saccade selection, although prior information continued to influence activity throughout. A separate subset of FEF neurons, "Late neurons," only represented the final action plan near saccade onset and not prior information. Our results demonstrate how, across the population of FEF neurons, prior information evolves into definitive saccade plans.
Project description:When we make economic choices, the brain first evaluates available options and then decides whether to choose them. Midbrain dopamine neurons are known to reinforce economic choices through their signal evoked by outcomes after decisions are made. However, although critical internal processing is executed while decisions are being made, little is known about the role of dopamine neurons during this period. We found that dopamine neurons exhibited dynamically changing signals related to the internal processing while rhesus monkeys were making decisions. These neurons encoded the value of an option immediately after it was offered and then gradually changed their activity to represent the animal's upcoming choice. Similar dynamics were observed in the orbitofrontal cortex, a center for economic decision-making, but the value-to-choice signal transition was completed earlier in dopamine neurons. Our findings suggest that dopamine neurons are a key component of the neural network that makes choices from values during ongoing decision-making processes.
Project description:Cognitive control proactively configures information processing to suit expected task demands. Predictions of forthcoming demand can be driven by explicit external cues or be generated internally, based on past experience (cognitive history). However, it is not known whether and how the brain reconciles these two sources of information to guide control. Pairing a probabilistic task-switching paradigm with computational modeling, we found that external and internally generated predictions jointly guide task preparation, with a bias for internal predictions. Using model-based neuroimaging, we then show that the two sources of task prediction are integrated in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and jointly inform a representation of the likelihood of a change in task demand, encoded in frontoparietal cortex. Upon task-stimulus onset, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex encoded the need for reactive task-set adjustment. These data reveal how the human brain integrates external cues and cognitive history to prepare for an upcoming task.