Reward expectancy in primate prefrental neurons


THE prefrontal cortex is important in the organization of goal-directed behaviour1–3. When animals are trained to work for a particular goal or reward4–7, reward 'expectancy' is processed by prefrontal neurons. Recent studies of the prefrontal cortex have concentrated on the role of working memory in the control of behaviour8–10. In spatial delayed-response tasks, neurons in the prefrontal cortex show activity changes during the delay period between presentation of the cue and the reward11–15, with some of the neurons being spatially specific (that is, responses vary with the cue position)13–15. Here I report that the delay activity in prefrontal neurons is dependent also on the particular reward received for the behavioural response, and to the way the reward is given. It seems that the prefrontal cortex may monitor the outcome of goal-directed behaviour.

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Watanabe, M. Reward expectancy in primate prefrental neurons. Nature 382, 629–632 (1996).

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