Risk-sensitive neurons in macaque posterior cingulate cortex

Nat Neurosci. 2005 Sep;8(9):1220-7. doi: 10.1038/nn1523. Epub 2005 Aug 14.


People and animals often demonstrate strong attraction or aversion to options with uncertain or risky rewards, yet the neural substrate of subjective risk preferences has rarely been investigated. Here we show that monkeys systematically preferred the risky target in a visual gambling task in which they chose between two targets offering the same mean reward but differing in reward uncertainty. Neuronal activity in posterior cingulate cortex (CGp), a brain area linked to visual orienting and reward processing, increased when monkeys made risky choices and scaled with the degree of risk. CGp activation was better predicted by the subjective salience of a chosen target than by its actual value. These data suggest that CGp signals the subjective preferences that guide visual orienting.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / cytology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Linear Models
  • Macaca mulatta / physiology
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Probability
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reward*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Time Factors