The orbitofrontal cortex, predicted value, and choice

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Dec:1239:43-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06270.x.


Considerable evidence suggests that choice between goal-directed actions depends on two incentive processes encoding the reward value of the goal or outcome and the predicted value of an action based on outcome-related stimuli. Although incentive theories generally assume that these processes are mediated by a common associative mechanism, a number of recent findings suggest that they are dissociable; the reward value of an action is derived from consummatory experience with the outcome itself, whereas the predicted value of an action is based on the presence of outcome-associated stimuli from which estimates of the likelihood of an outcome are derived. Importantly, the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in rodents appears to mediate the effect of outcome-related stimuli on choice; OFC lesions disrupt the influence of Pavlovian stimuli on choice in tests of outcome-specific Pavlovian-instrumental transfer. However, the influence of outcome-related stimuli on choice involves a larger circuit including the OFC, the ventral striatum, and the amygdala. How these structures interact, however, is not yet fully understood and is an important question for future research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Physiology, Comparative / methods
  • Reward
  • Social Values