Knowing whether core reward regions carry information about the positions of relevant objects is crucial for adjudicating between choice models. One limitation of previous studies, including our own, is that spatial positions can be consistently differentially associated with rewards, and thus position can be confounded with attention, motor plans, or target identity. We circumvented these problems by using a task in which value- and thus choices-was determined solely by a frequently changing rule, which was randomized relative to spatial position on each trial. We presented offers asynchronously, which allowed us to control for reward expectation, spatial attention, and motor plans in our analyses. We find robust encoding of the spatial position of both offers and choices in two core reward regions, orbitofrontal Area 13 and ventral striatum, as well as in dorsal striatum of macaques. The trial-by-trial correlation in noise in encoding of position was associated with variation in choice, an effect known as choice probability correlation, suggesting that the spatial encoding is associated with choice and is not incidental to it. Spatial information and reward information are not carried by separate sets of neurons, although the two forms of information are temporally dissociable. These results highlight the ubiquity of multiplexed information in association cortex and argue against the idea that these ostensible reward regions serve as part of a pure value domain.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Meghan Castagno, Giuliana LoConte, and Marc Mancarella for assistance in data collection and Rei Akaishi, Habiba Azab, and Maya Wang for helpful discussions. This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant R01-DA-038106; to B. Y. Hayden). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Conceived and designed the experiments: B. J. S., B. Y. H. Performed the experiments: B. J. S. Analyzed the data: S. B. M. Y. Wrote the paper: S. B. M. Y., B. Y. H.
© 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.