Adaptive decision making requires selecting an action and then monitoring its consequences to improve future decisions. The neuronal mechanisms supporting action evaluation and subsequent behavioral modification, however, remain poorly understood. To investigate the contribution of posterior cingulate cortex (CGp) to these processes, we recorded activity of single neurons in monkeys performing a gambling task in which the reward outcome of each choice strongly influenced subsequent choices. We found that CGp neurons signaled reward outcomes in a nonlinear fashion and that outcome-contingent modulations in firing rate persisted into subsequent trials. Moreover, firing rate on any one trial predicted switching to the alternative option on the next trial. Finally, microstimulation in CGp following risky choices promoted a preference reversal for the safe option on the following trial. Collectively, these results demonstrate that CGp directly contributes to the evaluative processes that support dynamic changes in decision making in volatile environments.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Vinod Venkatraman for help in developing Psychtoolbox for our rig. We thank Sarah Heilbronner for comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the NIH EY013496 (M.L.P.) and a Kirschstein NRSA DA023338 (B.Y.H.).