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Nat Neurosci. 2011 Oct 30;14(12):1581-9. doi: 10.1038/nn.2961.

Double dissociation of value computations in orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate neurons.

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Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK.


Damage to prefrontal cortex (PFC) impairs decision-making, but the underlying value computations that might cause such impairments remain unclear. Here we report that value computations are doubly dissociable among PFC neurons. Although many PFC neurons encoded chosen value, they used opponent encoding schemes such that averaging the neuronal population extinguished value coding. However, a special population of neurons in anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), but not in orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), multiplexed chosen value across decision parameters using a unified encoding scheme and encoded reward prediction errors. In contrast, neurons in OFC, but not ACC, encoded chosen value relative to the recent history of choice values. Together, these results suggest complementary valuation processes across PFC areas: OFC neurons dynamically evaluate current choices relative to recent choice values, whereas ACC neurons encode choice predictions and prediction errors using a common valuation currency reflecting the integration of multiple decision parameters.

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