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J Neurosci. 2013 Jul 3;33(27):11227-38. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0318-13.2013.

Reward value-contingent changes of visual responses in the primate caudate tail associated with a visuomotor skill.

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Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


A goal-directed action aiming at an incentive outcome, if repeated, becomes a skill that may be initiated automatically. We now report that the tail of the caudate nucleus (CDt) may serve to control a visuomotor skill. Monkeys looked at many fractal objects, half of which were always associated with a large reward (high-valued objects) and the other half with a small reward (low-valued objects). After several daily sessions, they developed a gaze bias, looking at high-valued objects even when no reward was associated. CDt neurons developed a response bias, typically showing stronger responses to high-valued objects. In contrast, their responses showed no change when object values were reversed frequently, although monkeys showed a strong gaze bias, looking at high-valued objects in a goal-directed manner. The biased activity of CDt neurons may be transmitted to the oculomotor region so that animals can choose high-valued objects automatically based on stable reward experiences.

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