Article abstract

Nature Neuroscience 11, 703 - 712 (2008)
Published online: 25 May 2008 | doi:10.1038/nn.2128

Reward prediction based on stimulus categorization in primate lateral prefrontal cortex

Xiaochuan Pan1, Kosuke Sawa2, Ichiro Tsuda3, Minoru Tsukada1 & Masamichi Sakagami1

To adapt to changeable or unfamiliar environments, it is important that animals develop strategies for goal-directed behaviors that meet the new challenges. We used a sequential paired-association task with asymmetric reward schedule to investigate how prefrontal neurons integrate multiple already-acquired associations to predict reward. Two types of reward-related neurons were observed in the lateral prefrontal cortex: one type predicted reward independent of physical properties of visual stimuli and the other encoded the reward value specific to a category of stimuli defined by the task requirements. Neurons of the latter type were able to predict reward on the basis of stimuli that had not yet been associated with reward, provided that another stimulus from the same category was paired with reward. The results suggest that prefrontal neurons can represent reward information on the basis of category and propagate this information to category members that have not been linked directly with any experience of reward.

  1. Brain Science Institute, Tamagawa University, Tamagawagakuen 6-1-1, Machida, Tokyo 194-610, Japan.
  2. Department of Psychology, Senshu University, 2-1-1. Higashimita, Tama-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa 214-8580, Japan.
  3. Research Institute for Electronic Science, Hokkaido University, Kita 12 Nishi 6, Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-0812, Japan.

Correspondence to: Masamichi Sakagami1 e-mail:


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