Orbitofrontal signals for two-component choice options comply with indifference curves of Revealed Preference Theory

Nat Commun. 2019 Oct 25;10(1):4885. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12792-4.


Economic choice options contain multiple components and constitute vectorial bundles. The question arises how they are represented by single-dimensional, scalar neuronal signals that are suitable for economic decision-making. Revealed Preference Theory provides formalisms for establishing preference relations between such bundles, including convenient graphic indifference curves. During stochastic choice between bundles with the same two juice components, we identified neuronal signals for vectorial, multi-component bundles in the orbitofrontal cortex of monkeys. A scalar signal integrated the values from all bundle components in the structured manner of the Theory; it followed the behavioral indifference curves within their confidence limits, was indistinguishable between differently composed but equally revealed preferred bundles, predicted bundle choice and complied with an optimality axiom. Further, distinct signals in other neurons coded the option components separately but followed indifference curves as a population. These data demonstrate how scalar signals represent vectorial, multi-component choice options.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Reward
  • Stochastic Processes