Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Nature. 2001 Jun 21;411(6840):953-6.

Single neurons in prefrontal cortex encode abstract rules.

Author information

  • 1Center for Learning and Memory, RIKEN-MIT Neuroscience Research Center, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.

Abstract

The ability to abstract principles or rules from direct experience allows behaviour to extend beyond specific circumstances to general situations. For example, we learn the 'rules' for restaurant dining from specific experiences and can then apply them in new restaurants. The use of such rules is thought to depend on the prefrontal cortex (PFC) because its damage often results in difficulty in following rules. Here we explore its neural basis by recording from single neurons in the PFC of monkeys trained to use two abstract rules. They were required to indicate whether two successively presented pictures were the same or different depending on which rule was currently in effect. The monkeys performed this task with new pictures, thus showing that they had learned two general principles that could be applied to stimuli that they had not yet experienced. The most prevalent neuronal activity observed in the PFC reflected the coding of these abstract rules.

PMID:
11418860
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk