The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is important for learning from feedback, and for biasing and invigorating behavior in response to cues that predict motivationally relevant outcomes. NAc encodes outcome-related cue features such as the magnitude and identity of reward. However, little is known about how features of cues themselves are encoded. We designed a decision making task where rats learned multiple sets of outcome-predictive cues, and recorded single-unit activity in the NAc during performance. We found that coding of cue identity and location occurred alongside coding of expected outcome. Furthermore, this coding persisted both during a delay period, after the rat made a decision and was waiting for an outcome, and after the outcome was revealed. Encoding of cue features in the NAc may enable contextual modulation of ongoing behavior, and provide an eligibility trace of outcome-predictive stimuli for updating stimulus-outcome associations to inform future behavior.
Preprocessed data and data analysis code, sufficient to reproduce the results in the paper, are available on this public GitHub repository: https://github.com/jgmaz/vStrCueCodingPaper (commit 56c5f52).
- James E Carmichael
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All experimental procedures were approved by the the University of Waterloo Animal Care Committee (protocol# 11-06) and carried out in accordance with Canadian Council for Animal Care (CCAC) guidelines.
- Geoffrey Schoenbaum, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, United States
© 2018, Gmaz et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is classically linked to inhibitory control, emotion regulation, and reward processing. Recent perspectives propose that the OFC also generates predictions about perceptual events, actions, and their outcomes. We tested the role of the OFC in detecting violations of prediction at two levels of abstraction (i.e., hierarchical predictive processing) by studying the event-related potentials (ERPs) of patients with focal OFC lesions (n = 12) and healthy controls (n = 14) while they detected deviant sequences of tones in a local–global paradigm. The structural regularities of the tones were controlled at two hierarchical levels by rules defined at a local (i.e., between tones within sequences) and at a global (i.e., between sequences) level. In OFC patients, ERPs elicited by standard tones were unaffected at both local and global levels compared to controls. However, patients showed an attenuated mismatch negativity (MMN) and P3a to local prediction violation, as well as a diminished MMN followed by a delayed P3a to the combined local and global level prediction violation. The subsequent P3b component to conditions involving violations of prediction at the level of global rules was preserved in the OFC group. Comparable effects were absent in patients with lesions restricted to the lateral PFC, which lends a degree of anatomical specificity to the altered predictive processing resulting from OFC lesion. Overall, the altered magnitudes and time courses of MMN/P3a responses after lesions to the OFC indicate that the neural correlates of detection of auditory regularity violation are impacted at two hierarchical levels of rule abstraction.
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