Common medial frontal mechanisms of adaptive control in humans and rodents

Nat Neurosci. 2013 Dec;16(12):1888-1895. doi: 10.1038/nn.3549. Epub 2013 Oct 20.


In this report we describe how common brain networks within the medial frontal cortex (MFC) facilitate adaptive behavioral control in rodents and humans. We demonstrate that after errors, low-frequency oscillations below 12 Hz are modulated over the midfrontal cortex in humans and within the prelimbic and anterior cingulate regions of the MFC in rats. These oscillations were phase locked between the MFC and motor areas in both rats and humans. In rats, single neurons that encoded prior behavioral outcomes were phase coherent with low-frequency field oscillations, particularly after errors. Inactivating the medial frontal regions in rats led to impaired behavioral adjustments after errors, eliminated the differential expression of low-frequency oscillations after errors and increased low-frequency spike-field coupling within the motor cortex. Our results describe a new mechanism for behavioral adaptation through low-frequency oscillations and elucidate how medial frontal networks synchronize brain activity to guide performance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Time Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult