Neuronal responses support a role for orbitofrontal cortex in cognitive set reconfiguration

Brianna J. Sleezer, Giuliana A. LoConte, Meghan D. Castagno, Benjamin Y. Hayden

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17 Scopus citations


We are often faced with the need to abandon no-longer beneficial rules and adopt new ones. This process, known as cognitive set reconfiguration, is a hallmark of executive control. Although cognitive functions like reconfiguration are most often associated with dorsal prefrontal structures, recent evidence suggests that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) may play an important role as well. We recorded the activity of OFC neurons while rhesus macaques performed an analogue of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task that involved a trial and error stage. The OFC neurons demonstrated two types of switch-related activity, an early (switch-away) signal and a late (switch-to) signal, when the new task set was established. We also found a pattern of match modulation: a significant change in activity for the stimulus that matched the current perceptual rule (and would therefore be selected). These results extend our understanding of the executive functions of the OFC. They also allow us to directly compare the OFC with the complementary datasets we previously collected in the ventral (VS) and dorsal (DS) striatum. Although both effects are observed in all three areas, the timing of responses aligns the OFC more closely with DS than with VS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-951
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a R01 (DA038106), and a Brain and Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD award to BYH, and by a NIH Training Fellowship (T32-EY007125) to BJS. We thank Tommy Blanchard for assistance in data collection and analysis and Marc Mancarella for general lab assistance.


  • conceptual set-shifting task
  • executive control
  • rhesus macaque
  • rule
  • switching


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