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Orbitofrontal neurons acquire responses to 'valueless' Pavlovian cues during unblocking

  1. Michael A McDannald
  2. Guillem R Esber
  3. Meredyth A Wegener
  4. Heather M Wied
  5. Tzu-Lan Liu
  6. Thomas A Stalnaker
  7. Joshua L Jones
  8. Jason Trageser
  9. Geoffrey Schoenbaum  Is a corresponding author
  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse, United States
  2. University of Pittsburg, United States
  3. University of Maryland School of Medicine, United States
  4. National Taiwan University, Taiwan
  5. Johns Hopkins University, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 41
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Cite this article as: eLife 2014;3:e02653 doi: 10.7554/eLife.02653

Abstract

The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been described as signaling outcome expectancies or value. Evidence for the latter comes from the studies showing that neural signals in the OFC correlate with value across features. Yet features can co-vary with value, and individual units may participate in multiple ensembles coding different features. Here we used unblocking to test whether OFC neurons would respond to a predictive cue signaling a 'valueless' change in outcome flavor. Neurons were recorded as the rats learned about cues that signaled either an increase in reward number or a valueless change in flavor. We found that OFC neurons acquired responses to both predictive cues. This activity exceeded that exhibited to a 'blocked' cue and was correlated with activity to the actual outcome. These results show that OFC neurons fire to cues with no value independent of what can be inferred through features of the predicted outcome.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Michael A McDannald

    National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Guillem R Esber

    National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Meredyth A Wegener

    University of Pittsburg, Pittsburg, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Heather M Wied

    University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Tzu-Lan Liu

    National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Thomas A Stalnaker

    National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Joshua L Jones

    University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Jason Trageser

    Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Geoffrey Schoenbaum

    National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, United States
    For correspondence
    geoffrey.schoenbaum@nih.gov
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Ethics

Animal experimentation: Rats were tested at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the NIDA-IRP in accordance with SOM and NIH guidelines (12-CNRB-108).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Howard Eichenbaum, Boston University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: February 26, 2014
  2. Accepted: July 17, 2014
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 18, 2014 (version 1)
  4. Accepted Manuscript updated: July 20, 2014 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record published: August 14, 2014 (version 3)

Copyright

This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

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Further reading

    1. Developmental Biology
    2. Neuroscience
    Polona Jager et al.
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    The ubiquitous presence of inhibitory interneurons in the thalamus of primates contrasts with the sparsity of interneurons reported in mice. Here, we identify a larger than expected complexity and distribution of interneurons across the mouse thalamus, where all thalamic interneurons can be traced back to two developmental programmes: one specified in the midbrain and the other in the forebrain. Interneurons migrate to functionally distinct thalamocortical nuclei depending on their origin: the abundant, midbrain-derived class populates the first and higher order sensory thalamus while the rarer, forebrain-generated class is restricted to some higher order associative regions. We also observe that markers for the midbrain-born class are abundantly expressed throughout the thalamus of the New World monkey marmoset. These data therefore reveal that, despite the broad variability in interneuron density across mammalian species, the blueprint of the ontogenetic organisation of thalamic interneurons of larger-brained mammals exists and can be studied in mice.