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Selective and graded coding of reward uncertainty by neurons in the primate anterodorsal septal region

Nature Neuroscience volume 16, pages 756762 (2013) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Natural environments are uncertain. Uncertainty of emotional outcomes can induce anxiety and raise vigilance, promote and signal the opportunity for learning, modulate economic choice and regulate risk-seeking. Here we demonstrate that a subset of neurons in the anterodorsal region of the primate septum (ADS) are primarily devoted to processing uncertainty in a highly specific manner. Those neurons were selectively activated by visual cues indicating probabilistic delivery of reward (for example, 25%, 50% and 75% reward) and did not respond to cues indicating certain outcomes (0% and 100% reward). The average ADS uncertainty response was graded with the magnitude of reward uncertainty and selectively signaled uncertainty about rewards rather than punishments. The selective and graded information about reward uncertainty encoded by many neurons in the ADS may underlie modulation of uncertainty of value- and sensorimotor-related areas to regulate goal-directed behavior.

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Acknowledgements

We thank E. Bromberg-Martin, B. Cumming, P. Daye, A. Ghazizadeh, S. Hong, H. Kim, D. Leopold, P. Rudebeck, K. Saleem, Y. Tachibana, R. Wurtz, S. Yamamoto and M. Yasuda for valuable scientific discussions, D. Leopold, F. Ye and C. Zhu for excellent MRI services and advice, M. Smith for histological expertise and service, and A. Hays, J. McClurkin, B. Nagy, N. Nichols, D. Parker and T. Ruffner for technical support. This work was supported by the intramural research program at the US National Eye Institute.

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Affiliations

  1. Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

    • Ilya E Monosov
    •  & Okihide Hikosaka

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Contributions

I.E.M. initiated the experiments, performed the experiments and analyzed the data in consultation with O.H.; I.E.M. and O.H. discussed the results and wrote the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ilya E Monosov.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3398

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