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Learning the meaning of new stimuli increases the cross-correlated activity of prefrontal neurons.


ABSTRACT: The prefrontal cortex (PF) has a key role in learning rules and generating associations between stimuli and responses also called conditional motor learning. Previous studies in PF have examined conditional motor learning at the single cell level but not the correlation of discharges between neurons at the ensemble level. In the present study, we recorded from two rhesus monkeys in the dorsolateral and the mediolateral parts of the prefrontal cortex to address the role of correlated firing of simultaneously recorded pairs during conditional motor learning. We trained two rhesus monkeys to associate three stimuli with three response targets, such that each stimulus was mapped to only one response. We recorded the neuronal activity of the same neuron pairs during learning of new associations and with already learned associations. In these tasks after a period of fixation, a visual instruction stimulus appeared centrally and three potential response targets appeared in three positions: right, left, and up from center. We found a higher number of neuron pairs significantly correlated and higher cross-correlation coefficients during stimulus presentation in the new than in the familiar mapping task. These results demonstrate that learning affects the PF neural correlation structure.

SUBMITTER: Nougaret S 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6076274 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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