Contrasting Roles for Orbitofrontal Cortex and Amygdala in Credit Assignment and Learning in Macaques

Neuron. 2015 Sep 2;87(5):1106-18. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.08.018.


Recent studies have challenged the view that orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and amygdala mediate flexible reward-guided behavior. We trained macaques to perform an object discrimination reversal task during fMRI sessions and identified a lateral OFC (lOFC) region in which activity predicted adaptive win-stay/lose-shift behavior. Amygdala and lOFC activity was more strongly coupled on lose-shift trials. However, lOFC-amygdala coupling was also modulated by the relevance of reward information in a manner consistent with a role in establishing how credit for reward should be assigned. Day-to-day fluctuations in signals and signal coupling were correlated with day-to-day fluctuation in performance. A second experiment confirmed the existence of signals for adaptive stay/shift behavior in lOFC and reflecting irrelevant reward in the amygdala in a probabilistic learning task. Our data demonstrate that OFC and amygdala each make unique contributions to flexible behavior and credit assignment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Amygdala / blood supply
  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Prefrontal Cortex / blood supply
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Reward*
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors


  • Oxygen