Previous work indicates that economic decisions can be made independently of the visuomotor contingencies of the choice task (space of goods). However, the neuronal mechanisms through which the choice outcome (the chosen good) is transformed into a suitable action plan remain poorly understood. Here we show that neurons in lateral prefrontal cortex reflect the early stages of this good-to-action transformation. Monkeys chose between different juices. The experimental design dissociated in space and time the presentation of the offers and the saccade targets associated with them. We recorded from the orbital, ventrolateral, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices (OFC, LPFCv, and LPFCd, respectively). Prior to target presentation, neurons in both LPFCv and LPFCd encoded the choice outcome in goods space. After target presentation, they gradually came to encode the location of the targets and the upcoming action plan. Consistent with the anatomical connectivity, all spatial and action-related signals emerged in LPFCv before LPFCd.
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