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Neuron. 2006 Aug 17;51(4):495-507.

Representation of spatial goals in rat orbitofrontal cortex.

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  • 1Watson School of Biological Sciences, 1 Bungtown Road, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.


The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is thought to participate in making and evaluating goal-directed decisions. In rodents, spatial navigation is a major mode of goal-directed behavior, and anatomical and lesion studies implicate the OFC in spatial processing, but there is little direct evidence for coding of spatial or motor variables. Here, we recorded from ventrolateral and lateral OFC in an odor-cued two-alternative choice task requiring orientation and approach to spatial goal ports. In this context, over half of OFC neurons encoded choice direction or goal port location. A subset of neurons was jointly selective for the trial outcome and port location, information useful for the selection or evaluation of spatial goals. These observations show that the rodent OFC not only encodes information relating to general motivational significance, as shown previously, but also encodes spatiomotor variables needed to define specific behavioral goals and the locomotor actions required to attain them.

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