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Orbitofrontal Cortex as a Cognitive Map of Task Space

Author(s): Wilson, Robert C.; Takahashi, Yuji K.; Schoenbaum, Geoffrey; Niv, Yael

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Abstract: Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has long been known to play an important role in decision making. However, the exact nature of that role has remained elusive. Here we propose a new unifying theory of OFC function. We hypothesize that OFC provides an abstraction of currently available information in the form of a labeling of the current task state, which is used for reinforcement learning elsewhere in the brain. This function is especially critical when task states include unobservable information, for instance, from working memory. We use this framework to explain classic findings in reversal learning, delayed alternation, extinction and devaluation, as well as more recent findings showing the effect of OFC lesions on the firing of dopaminergic neurons in ventral tegmental area (VTA) in rodents performing a reinforcement learning task. In addition, we generate a number of testable experimental predictions that can distinguish our theory from other accounts of OFC function.
Publication Date: Jan-2014
Citation: Wilson, Robert C, Takahashi, Yuji K, Schoenbaum, Geoffrey, Niv, Yael. (2014). Orbitofrontal Cortex as a Cognitive Map of Task Space. Neuron, 81 (2), 267 - 279. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2013.11.005
DOI: doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2013.11.005
ISSN: 0896-6273
Pages: 267 - 279
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Neuron
Version: Author's manuscript

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