Primate orbitofrontal cortex and adaptive behaviour

Trends Cogn Sci. 2006 Feb;10(2):83-90. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2005.12.002. Epub 2005 Dec 27.


Orbitofrontal cortex contributes to behavioural adaptation in response to changes in the contingent relationship and incentive value of positive affective stimuli in the environment. This article integrates early descriptions of the effects of orbitofrontal ablation in monkeys, on object discrimination reversal and extinction, with contemporary theories of animal learning. Studies of incentive devaluation, conditioned reinforcement and changes in reward contingency are reviewed, highlighting the role of the orbitofrontal cortex in processing the affective and non-affective properties of rewarding stimuli, in reward expectation, and in goal selection. It is argued that future studies should focus on the interaction of the orbitofrontal cortex with peripheral arousal systems and the ascending monoamine systems in order to understand fully the role of the orbitofrontal cortex in behavioural adaptation.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Learning
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Primates / physiology*