Prefrontal neurons predict choices during an auditory same-different task

Curr Biol. 2008 Oct 14;18(19):1483-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.08.054. Epub 2008 Sep 25.


The detection of stimuli is critical for an animal's survival [1]. However, it is not adaptive for an animal to respond automatically to every stimulus that is present in the environment [2-5]. Given that the prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays a key role in executive function [6-8], we hypothesized that PFC activity should be involved in context-dependent responses to uncommon stimuli. As a test of this hypothesis, monkeys participated in a same-different task, a variant of an oddball task [2]. During this task, a monkey heard multiple presentations of a "reference" stimulus that were followed by a "test" stimulus and reported whether these stimuli were the same or different. While they participated in this task, we recorded from neurons in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vPFC; a cortical area involved in aspects of nonspatial auditory processing [9, 10]). We found that vPFC activity was correlated with the monkeys' choices. This finding demonstrates a direct link between single neurons and behavioral choices in the PFC on a nonspatial auditory task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*