Evaluation of both immediate and future outcomes of one's actions is a critical requirement for intelligent behavior. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated brain mechanisms for reward prediction at different time scales in a Markov decision task. When human subjects learned actions on the basis of immediate rewards, significant activity was seen in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the striatum. When subjects learned to act in order to obtain large future rewards while incurring small immediate losses, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, inferior parietal cortex, dorsal raphe nucleus and cerebellum were also activated. Computational model–based regression analysis using the predicted future rewards and prediction errors estimated from subjects' performance data revealed graded maps of time scale within the insula and the striatum: ventroanterior regions were involved in predicting immediate rewards and dorsoposterior regions were involved in predicting future rewards. These results suggest differential involvement of the cortico-basal ganglia loops in reward prediction at different time scales.
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We thank K. Samejima, N. Schweighofer, M. Haruno, H. Imamizu, S. Higuchi, T. Yoshioka, T. Chaminade and M. Kawato for helpful discussions and technical advice. This research was funded by 'Creating the Brain,' Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST), Japan Science and Technology Agency.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
An example of the time series of the explanatory variables for one subject. (PDF 34 kb)
A schematic diagram of the brain areas involved in reward prediction at different time scales. The dotted lines indicate a cortico-cortico connection, and the green arrows indicate the serotonergic pathways from the dorsal raphe. The 'limbic loop' (including lateral OFC and ventral striatum) is involved in short-term reward prediction. The 'cognitive and motor loops' (including DLPFC, PMd and dorsal striatum) are involved in long-term reward prediction. Ventroanterior-to-dorsoposterior topographical projections from the insula to the striatum are involved in short-to-long-term reward prediction (rainbow-colored arrow). The mPFC and dorsal raphe, which are reciprocally connected, may regulate these loops by cortico-cortical and cortico-striatal projections from mPFC and serotonergic projections from dorsal raphe. SNr, substantia nigra pars reticulate. (PDF 415 kb)
Areas significantly activated in the block-design analysis. (PDF 11 kb)
Areas with significant correlation with reward prediction V(t) estimated with different discount factors γ. (PDF 15 kb)
Voxels with significant correlation with reward prediction error δ(t) estimated with different discount factors γ. (PDF 15 kb)
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Tanaka, S., Doya, K., Okada, G. et al. Prediction of immediate and future rewards differentially recruits cortico-basal ganglia loops. Nat Neurosci 7, 887–893 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1279
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