Economic choice proceeds from evaluation, in which we contemplate options, to selection, in which we weigh options and choose one. These stages must be differentiated so that decision makers do not proceed to selection before evaluation is complete. We examined responses of neurons in two core reward regions, orbitofrontal (OFC) and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), during two-option choice with asynchronous offer presentation. Our data suggest that neurons selective during the first (presumed evaluation) and second (presumed comparison and selection) offer epochs come from a single pool. Stage transition is accompanied by a shift toward orthogonality in the low-dimensional population response manifold. Nonetheless, the relative position of each option in driving responses in the population subspace is preserved. The orthogonalization we observe supports the hypothesis that the transition from evaluation to selection leads to reorganization of response subspace and suggests a mechanism by which value-related signals are prevented from prematurely driving choice.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Caleb Strait, Maya Wang, Tyler Cash-Padgett, and Marc Mancarella for help in data collection. We appreciate Cindy Tu for discussion at initial stage. We thank Alex Herman for useful help with writing. This project was supported by a grant from the NIH ( NIDA 038615 ).
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.
- covariance matrix
- orbitofrontal cortex
- ventromedial prefrontal cortex