Learning the value of options in an uncertain environment is central to optimal decision making. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been implicated in using reinforcement information to control behavior. Here we demonstrate that the ACC's critical role in reinforcement-guided behavior is neither in detecting nor in correcting errors, but in guiding voluntary choices based on the history of actions and outcomes. ACC lesions did not impair the performance of monkeys (Macaca mulatta) immediately after errors, but made them unable to sustain rewarded responses in a reinforcement-guided choice task and to integrate risk and payoff in a dynamic foraging task. These data suggest that the ACC is essential for learning the value of actions.
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We are grateful to D. Gaffan for advice and encouragement. Supported by the Medical Research Council. Additional support from the Clarendon Foundation (S.W.K.), the Wellcome Trust (M.E.W.) and the Royal Society (M.J.B and M.F.S.R.).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Number of trials to update to the other response after a task-imposed response switch in Experiment 1. (PDF 57 kb)
Inter-response time performance in Experiment 1A. (PDF 54 kb)
Performance for sustaining rewarded behavior following errors that occurred at a task-imposed switch trial or all other errors. (PDF 59 kb)
Relative contributions of the high and low reward-probability responses in determining ropt for the 0.4:0.1 action-reward ratio pairing in Experiment 2. (PDF 84 kb)
The average expected reward per response for each action-reward ratio pair in Experiment 2. (PDF 64 kb)
Group response ratio plot for the action-reward ratio 0.4:0.1. (PDF 79 kb)
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Kennerley, S., Walton, M., Behrens, T. et al. Optimal decision making and the anterior cingulate cortex. Nat Neurosci 9, 940–947 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1724
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