Ventromedial prefrontal cortex tracks multiple environmental variables during search

Priyanka S. Mehta, Jiaxin Cindy Tu, Giuliana A. LoConte, Meghan C. Pesce, Ben Y Hayden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To make efficient foraging decisions, we must combine information about the values of available options with nonvalue information. Some accounts of ventromedial PFC (vmPFC) suggest that it has a narrow role limited to evaluating immediately available options. We examined responses of neurons in area 14 (a putative macaque homolog of human vmPFC) as 2 male macaques performed a novel foraging search task. Although many neurons encoded the values of immediately available offers, they also independently encoded several other variables that influence choice, but that are conceptually distinct from offer value. These variables include average reward rate, number of offers viewed per trial, previous offer values, previous outcome sizes, and the locations of the currently attended offer.We conclude that, rather than serving as specialized economic value center, vmPFC plays a broad role in integrating relevant environmental information to drive foraging decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5336-5350
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume39
Issue number27
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 3 2019

Keywords

  • Electrophysiology
  • Foraging
  • Neuroeconomics
  • Search
  • Value
  • vmPFC

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