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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2010 Apr;20(2):191-8. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2010.02.009. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Heterogeneous reward signals in prefrontal cortex.

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Department of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Neurons encode upcoming rewards throughout frontal cortex. Recent papers have helped to determine that these signals play different roles in different frontal regions. Neurons in orbitofrontal cortex (PFo) appear to be responsible for calculating the specific value of an expected reward, information that can help efficiently guide decision-making. Similar signals are also present in the cingulate sulcus (PFcs). By contrast, reward signals in lateral prefrontal cortex (PFl) are consistent with a role in using reward to guide other cognitive processes, such as the allocation of attentional resources and using value information to guide learning other relationships in the environment such as arbitrary stimulus-response mappings. A remaining issue for future work is to specify the precise roles of PFo and PFcs. These two areas show very different patterns of connectivity with other brain areas, and it is currently unclear how this effects their contribution to decision-making.

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