ABSTRACT: Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) function is often characterized in terms of stimulus-reward mapping; however, more recent evidence suggests that the OFC may play a role in selecting and representing extended actions. First, previously encoded reward associations in the OFC could be used to inform responding in novel but similar situations. Second, when evaluated in tasks requiring the animal to perform extended actions, response selective activity can be recorded in the OFC. Finally, the interaction between the OFC and hippocampus illustrates OFC's role in response selection. The OFC may facilitate reward-guided memory retrieval by selecting the memories most relevant to achieve a goal. This model for OFC function places it within the hierarchy of increasingly complex action representations that support decision making.
Project description:During value-based decision making, we often evaluate the value of each option sequentially by shifting our attention, even when the options are presented simultaneously. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been suggested to encode value during value-based decision making. Yet it is not known how its activity is modulated by attention shifts. We investigated this question by employing a passive viewing task that allowed us to disentangle effects of attention, value, choice and eye movement. We found that the attention modulated OFC activity through a winner-take-all mechanism. When we attracted the monkeys' attention covertly, the OFC neuronal activity reflected the reward value of the newly attended cue. The shift of attention could be explained by a normalization model. Our results strongly argue for the hypothesis that the OFC neuronal activity represents the value of the attended item. They provide important insights toward understanding the OFC's role in value-based decision making.
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:The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is implicated in a broad range of behaviors and neuropsychiatric disorders. Anatomical tracing studies in nonhuman primates reveal differences in connectivity across subregions of the OFC, but data on the connectivity of the human OFC remain limited. We applied meta-analytic connectivity modeling in order to examine which brain regions are most frequently coactivated with the medial and lateral portions of the OFC in published functional neuroimaging studies. The analysis revealed a clear divergence in the pattern of connectivity for the medial OFC (mOFC) and lateral OFC (lOFC) regions. The lOFC showed coactivations with a network of prefrontal regions and areas involved in cognitive functions including language and memory. In contrast, the mOFC showed connectivity with default mode, autonomic, and limbic regions. Convergent patterns of coactivations were observed in the amygdala, hippocampus, striatum, and thalamus. A small number of regions showed connectivity specific to the anterior or posterior sectors of the OFC. Task domains involving memory, semantic processing, face processing, and reward were additionally analyzed in order to identify the different patterns of OFC functional connectivity associated with specific cognitive and affective processes. These data provide a framework for understanding the human OFC's position within widespread functional networks.
Project description:Decision makers are curious and consequently value advance information about future events. We made use of this fact to test competing theories of value representation in area 13 of orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). In a new task, we found that monkeys reliably sacrificed primary reward (water) to view advance information about gamble outcomes. While monkeys integrated information value with primary reward value to make their decisions, OFC neurons had no systematic tendency to integrate these variables, instead encoding them in orthogonal manners. These results suggest that the predominant role of the OFC is to encode variables relevant for learning, attention, and decision making, rather than integrating them into a single scale of value. They also suggest that OFC may be placed at a relatively early stage in the hierarchy of information-seeking decisions, before evaluation is complete. Thus, our results delineate a circuit for information-seeking decisions and suggest a neural basis for curiosity.
Project description:Distinguishing between actions that are more likely or less likely to be rewarded is a critical aspect of goal-directed decision making. However, neuroanatomic and molecular mechanisms are not fully understood.We used anterograde tracing, viral-mediated gene silencing, functional disconnection strategies, pharmacologic rescue, and designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADDs) to determine the anatomic and functional connectivity between the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and the amygdala in mice. In particular, we knocked down brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) bilaterally in the OFC or generated an OFC-amygdala "disconnection" by pairing unilateral OFC Bdnf knockdown with lesions of the contralateral amygdala. We characterized decision-making strategies using a task in which mice selected actions based on the likelihood that they would be reinforced. Additionally, we assessed the effects of DREADD-mediated OFC inhibition on the consolidation of action-outcome conditioning.As in other species, the OFC projects to the basolateral amygdala and dorsal striatum in mice. Bilateral Bdnf knockdown within the ventrolateral OFC and unilateral Bdnf knockdown accompanied by lesions of the contralateral amygdala impede goal-directed response selection, implicating BDNF-expressing OFC projection neurons in selecting actions based on their consequences. The tyrosine receptor kinase B agonist 7,8-dihydroxyflavone rescues action selection and increases dendritic spine density on excitatory neurons in the OFC. Rho-kinase inhibition also rescues goal-directed response strategies, linking neural remodeling with outcome-based decision making. Finally, DREADD-mediated OFC inhibition weakens new action-outcome memory.Activity-dependent and BDNF-dependent neuroplasticity within the OFC coordinate outcome-based decision making through interactions with the amygdala. These interactions break reward-seeking habits, a putative factor in multiple psychopathologies.
Project description:Understanding how the human brain translates sensory impressions into conscious percepts is a key challenge of neuroscience research. Work in this area has overwhelmingly centered on the conscious experience of vision at the exclusion of the other senses--in particular, smell. We hypothesized that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is a central substrate for olfactory conscious experience because of its privileged physiological role in odor processing. Combining functional magnetic resonance imaging, peripheral autonomic recordings, and olfactory psychophysics, we studied a case of complete anosmia (smell loss) in a patient with circumscribed traumatic brain injury to the right OFC. Despite a complete absence of conscious olfaction, the patient exhibited robust "blind smell," as indexed by reliable odor-evoked neural activity in the left OFC and normal autonomic responses to odor hedonics during presentation of stimuli to the left nostril. These data highlight the right OFC's critical role in subserving human olfactory consciousness.
Project description:The ability to select an appropriate behavioral response guided by previous emotional experiences is critical for survival. Although much is known about brain mechanisms underlying emotional associations, little is known about how these associations guide behavior when several choices are available. To address this, we performed local pharmacological inactivations of several cortical regions before retrieval of an aversive memory in choice-based versus no-choice-based conditioned taste aversion (CTA) tasks in rats. Interestingly, we found that inactivation of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), but not the dorsal or ventral medial prefrontal cortices, blocked retrieval of choice CTA. However, OFC inactivation left retrieval of no-choice CTA intact, suggesting its role in guiding choice, but not in retrieval of CTA memory. Consistently, OFC activity increased in the choice condition compared with no-choice, as measured with c-Fos immunolabeling. Notably, OFC inactivation did not affect choice behavior when it was guided by innate taste aversion. Consistent with an anterior insular cortex (AIC) involvement in storing taste memories, we found that AIC inactivation impaired retrieval of both choice and no-choice CTA. Therefore, this study provides evidence for OFC's role in guiding choice behavior and shows that this is dissociable from AIC-dependent taste aversion memory. Together, our results suggest that OFC is required and recruited to guide choice selection between options of taste associations relayed from AIC. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:Survival and mental health depend on being able to choose stimuli not associated with danger. This is particularly important when danger is associated with stimuli that we ingest. Although much is known about the brain mechanisms that underlie associations with dangerous taste stimuli, very little is known about how these stored emotional associations guide behavior when it involves choice. By combining pharmacological and immunohistochemistry tools with taste-guided tasks, our study provides evidence for the key role of orbitofrontal cortex activity in choice behavior and shows that this is dissociable from the adjacent insular cortex-dependent taste aversion memory. Understanding the brain mechanisms that underlie the impact that emotional associations have on survival choice behaviors may lead to better treatments for mental disorders characterized by emotional decision-making deficits.
Project description:The ventral striatum has long been proposed as an integrator of biologically significant associative information to drive actions. Although inputs from the amygdala and hippocampus have been much studied, the role of prominent inputs from orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) are less well understood. Here, we recorded single-unit activity from ventral striatum core in rats with sham or ipsilateral neurotoxic lesions of lateral OFC, as they performed an odour-guided spatial choice task. Consistent with prior reports, we found that spiking activity recorded in sham rats during cue sampling was related to both reward magnitude and reward identity, with higher firing rates observed for cues that predicted more reward. Lesioned rats also showed differential activity to the cues, but this activity was unbiased towards larger rewards. These data support a role for OFC in shaping activity in the ventral striatum to represent the biological significance of associative information in the environment.
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:The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been implicated in a multiplicity of complex brain functions, including representations of expected outcome properties, post-decision confidence, momentary food-reward values, complex flavors and odors. As breathing rhythm has an influence on odor processing at primary olfactory areas, we tested the hypothesis that it may also influence neuronal activity in the OFC, a prefrontal area involved also in higher order processing of odors. We recorded spike timing of orbitofrontal neurons as well as local field potentials (LFPs) in awake, head-fixed mice, together with the breathing rhythm. We observed that a large majority of orbitofrontal neurons showed robust phase-coupling to breathing during immobility and running. The phase coupling of action potentials to breathing was significantly stronger in orbitofrontal neurons compared to cells in the medial prefrontal cortex. The characteristic synchronization of orbitofrontal neurons with breathing might provide a temporal framework for multi-variable processing of olfactory, gustatory and reward-value relationships.