Contrasting reward signals in the orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex

Wallis Jonathan, Kennerley Steve 2011.


Damage to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) impairs decision making, but the underlying value computations that cause such impairments remain unclear. Both the OFC and ACC encode a wide variety of signals correlated with decision making. The current challenge is to determine how these two different areas support decisionā€making processes. Here, we review a series of experiments that have helped define these roles. A special population of neurons in the ACC, but not the OFC, multiplex value information across decision parameters using a unified encoding scheme, and encode reward prediction errors. In contrast, neurons in the OFC, but not the ACC, encode the value of a choice relative to the recent history of choice values. Together, these results suggest complementary valuation processes: OFC neurons dynamically evaluate current choices relative to the value contexts recently experienced, while ACC neurons encode choice predictions and prediction errors using a common valuation currency reflecting the integration of multiple decision parameters.