Lateral orbitofrontal neurons acquire responses to upshifted, downshifted, or blocked cues during unblocking

Elife. 2015 Dec 15;4:e11299. doi: 10.7554/eLife.11299.


The lateral orbitofrontal cortex (lOFC) has been described as signaling either outcome expectancies or value. Previously, we used unblocking to show that lOFC neurons respond to a predictive cue signaling a 'valueless' change in outcome features (McDannald, 2014). However, many lOFC neurons also fired to a cue that simply signaled more reward. Here, we recorded lOFC neurons in a variant of this task in which rats learned about cues that signaled either more (upshift), less (downshift) or the same (blocked) amount of reward. We found that neurons acquired responses specifically to one of the three cues and did not fire to the other two. These results show that, at least early in learning, lOFC neurons fire to valued cues in a way that is more consistent with signaling of the predicted outcome's features than with signaling of a general, abstract or cached value that is independent of the outcome.

Keywords: Pavlovian; blocking; neuroscience; orbitofrontal; rat; single unit.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cues*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Reward*

Grant support

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.