Specific frontal neural dynamics contribute to decisions to check

Nat Commun. 2016 Jun 20;7:11990. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11990.


Curiosity and information seeking potently shapes our behaviour and are thought to rely on the frontal cortex. Yet, the frontal regions and neural dynamics that control the drive to check for information remain unknown. Here we trained monkeys in a task where they had the opportunity to gain information about the potential delivery of a large bonus reward or continue with a default instructed decision task. Single-unit recordings in behaving monkeys reveal that decisions to check for additional information first engage midcingulate cortex and then lateral prefrontal cortex. The opposite is true for instructed decisions. Importantly, deciding to check engages neurons also involved in performance monitoring. Further, specific midcingulate activity could be discerned several trials before the monkeys actually choose to check the environment. Our data show that deciding to seek information on the current state of the environment is characterized by specific dynamics of neural activity within the prefrontal cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / anatomy & histology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Reward
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / cytology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology
  • Stereotaxic Techniques