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Nat Neurosci. 2016 Sep 27;19(10):1280-5. doi: 10.1038/nn.4382.

Value, search, persistence and model updating in anterior cingulate cortex.

Author information

Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (MRI), Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) carries a wealth of value-related information necessary for regulating behavioral flexibility and persistence. It signals error and reward events informing decisions about switching or staying with current behavior. During decision-making, it encodes the average value of exploring alternative choices (search value), even after controlling for response selection difficulty, and during learning, it encodes the degree to which internal models of the environment and current task must be updated. dACC value signals are derived in part from the history of recent reward integrated simultaneously over multiple time scales, thereby enabling comparison of experience over the recent and extended past. Such ACC signals may instigate attentionally demanding and difficult processes such as behavioral change via interactions with prefrontal cortex. However, the signal in dACC that instigates behavioral change need not itself be a conflict or difficulty signal.

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