Interactions between decision making and performance monitoring within prefrontal cortex

Nat Neurosci. 2004 Nov;7(11):1259-65. doi: 10.1038/nn1339. Epub 2004 Oct 24.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cues
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Feedback / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / blood supply
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / blood supply
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Oxygen