Our ability to judge the consequences of our actions is central to rational decision making. A large body of evidence implicates primate prefrontal regions in the regulation of this ability. It has proven extremely difficult, however, to separate functional areas in the frontal lobes. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we demonstrate complementary and reciprocal roles for the human orbitofrontal (OFC) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices (ACd) in monitoring the outcome of behavior. Activation levels in these regions were negatively correlated, with activation increasing in the ACd and decreasing in the OFC when the selected response was the result of the participant's own decision. The pattern was reversed when the selected response was guided by the experimenter rather than the participant. These results indicate that the neural mechanisms underlying the way we assess the consequences of choices differ depending on whether we are told what to do or are able to exercise our volition.
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This work was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and a Wellcome Trust Prize Studentship to M.E.W. We would like to thank P. Hobden, S. Hudsen and H. Johansen-Berg for radiography, and S. Smith, M. Jenkinson, C. Beckmann and T. Behrens for advice about analysis and registration.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Walton, M., Devlin, J. & Rushworth, M. Interactions between decision making and performance monitoring within prefrontal cortex. Nat Neurosci 7, 1259–1265 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1339
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