Behavioral shifts and action valuation in the anterior cingulate cortex

Neuron. 2008 Jan 24;57(2):314-25. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.11.031.


Rapid optimization of behavior requires decisions about when to explore and when to exploit discovered resources. The mechanisms that lead to fast adaptations and their interaction with action valuation are a central issue. We show here that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) encodes multiple feedbacks devoted to exploration and its immediate termination. In a task that alternates exploration and exploitation periods, the ACC monitored negative and positive outcomes relevant for different adaptations. In particular, it produced signals specific of the first reward, i.e., the end of exploration. Those signals disappeared in exploitation periods but immediately transferred to the initiation of trials-a transfer comparable to learning phenomena observed for dopaminergic neurons. Importantly, these were also observed for high gamma oscillations of local field potentials shown to correlate with brain imaging signal. Thus, mechanisms of action valuation and monitoring of events/actions are combined for rapid behavioral regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Feedback
  • Gyrus Cinguli / cytology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reward
  • Spectrum Analysis