The number of papers about the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has grown from 1 per month in 1987 to a current rate of over 50 per month. This publication stream has implicated the OFC in nearly every function known to cognitive neuroscience and in most neuropsychiatric diseases. However, new ideas about OFC function are typically based on limited data sets and often ignore or minimize competing ideas or contradictory findings. Yet true progress in our understanding of an area's function comes as much from invalidating existing ideas as proposing new ones. Here we consider the proposed roles for OFC, critically examining the level of support for these claims and highlighting the data that call them into question.
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The authors would like to thank C. Padoa-Schioppa, J. Wallis and P. Rudebeck for critical readings of earlier versions. This work was supported by grants to G.S. from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging while G.S. was employed at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and by funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the Intramural Research Program. The opinions expressed in this article are the authors' own and do not reflect the view of the US National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the United States government.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Stalnaker, T., Cooch, N. & Schoenbaum, G. What the orbitofrontal cortex does not do. Nat Neurosci 18, 620–627 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3982
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