Economic choices entail computing and comparing subjective values. Evidence from primates indicates that this behavior relies on the orbitofrontal cortex. Conversely, previous work in rodents provided conflicting results. Here we present a mouse model of economic choice behavior, and we show that the lateral orbital (LO) area is intimately related to the decision process. In the experiments, mice chose between different juices offered in variable amounts. Choice patterns closely resembled those measured in primates. Optogenetic inactivation of LO dramatically disrupted choices by inducing erratic changes of relative value and by increasing choice variability. Neuronal recordings revealed that different groups of cells encoded the values of individual options, the binary choice outcome and the chosen value. These groups match those previously identified in primates, except that the neuronal representation in mice is spatial (in monkeys it is good-based). Our results lay the foundations for a circuit-level analysis of economic decisions.
Data and analysis files included as supplementary information
- Camillo Padoa-Schioppa
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 conformed to the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at Washington University in St Louis (protocol # 20160167).
- Naoshige Uchida, Harvard University, United States
© 2020, Kuwabara 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.
The locus coeruleus (LC) houses the vast majority of noradrenergic neurons in the brain and regulates many fundamental functions including fight and flight response, attention control, and sleep/wake cycles. While efferent projections of the LC have been extensively investigated, little is known about its local circuit organization. Here, we performed large-scale multi-patch recordings of noradrenergic neurons in adult mouse LC to profile their morpho-electric properties while simultaneously examining their interactions. LC noradrenergic neurons are diverse and could be classified into two major morpho-electric types. While fast excitatory synaptic transmission among LC noradrenergic neurons was not observed in our preparation, these mature LC neurons connected via gap junction at a rate similar to their early developmental stage and comparable to other brain regions. Most electrical connections form between dendrites and are restricted to narrowly spaced pairs or small clusters of neurons of the same type. In addition, more than two electrically coupled cell pairs were often identified across a cohort of neurons from individual multi-cell recording sets that followed a chain-like organizational pattern. The assembly of LC noradrenergic neurons thus follows a spatial and cell type-specific wiring principle that may be imposed by a unique chain-like rule.
Every decision that we make involves a conflict between exploiting our current knowledge of an action's value or exploring alternative courses of action that might lead to a better, or worse outcome. The sub-cortical nuclei that make up the basal ganglia have been proposed as a neural circuit that may contribute to resolving this explore-exploit 'dilemma'. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effects of neuromodulating the basal ganglia's output nucleus, the globus pallidus interna, in patients who had undergone deep brain stimulation (DBS) for isolated dystonia. Neuromodulation enhanced the number of exploratory choices to the lower value option in a 2-armed bandit probabilistic reversal-learning task. Enhanced exploration was explained by a reduction in the rate of evidence accumulation (drift rate) in a reinforcement learning drift diffusion model. We estimated the functional connectivity profile between the stimulating DBS electrode and the rest of the brain using a normative functional connectome derived from heathy controls. Variation in the extent of neuromodulation induced exploration between patients was associated with functional connectivity from the stimulation electrode site to a distributed brain functional network. We conclude that the basal ganglia's output nucleus, the globus pallidus interna, can adaptively modify decision choice when faced with the dilemma to explore or exploit.