Reactivation of associative structure specific outcome responses during prospective evaluation in reward-based choices

Maya Zhe Wang, Benjamin Y. Hayden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


Before making a reward-based choice, we must evaluate each option. Some theories propose that prospective evaluation involves a reactivation of the neural response to the outcome. Others propose that it calls upon a response pattern that is specific to each underlying associative structure. We hypothesize that these views are reconcilable: during prospective evaluation, offers reactivate neural responses to outcomes that are unique to each associative structure; when the outcome occurs, this pattern is activated, simultaneously, with a general response to the reward. We recorded single-units from macaque orbitofrontal cortex (Area 13) in a riskless choice task with interleaved described and experienced offer trials. Here we report that neural activations to offers and their outcomes overlap, as do neural activations to the outcomes on the two trial types. Neural activations to experienced and described offers are unrelated even though they predict the same outcomes. Our reactivation theory parsimoniously explains these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15821
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 30 2017
Externally publishedYes


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