Dynamic routing of task-relevant signals for decision making in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

Nat Neurosci. 2015 Feb;18(2):295-301. doi: 10.1038/nn.3918. Epub 2015 Jan 12.


Neurons in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) encode a diverse array of sensory and mnemonic signals, but little is known about how this information is dynamically routed during decision making. We analyzed the neuronal activity in the DLPFC of monkeys performing a probabilistic reversal task where information about the probability and magnitude of reward was provided by the target color and numerical cues, respectively. The location of the target of a given color was randomized across trials and therefore was not relevant for subsequent choices. DLPFC neurons encoded signals related to both task-relevant and irrelevant features, but only task-relevant mnemonic signals were encoded congruently with choice signals. Furthermore, only the task-relevant signals related to previous events were more robustly encoded following rewarded outcomes. Thus, multiple types of neural signals are flexibly routed in the DLPFC so as to favor actions that maximize reward.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Probability Learning
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reward*
  • Visual Perception / physiology