Neuronal Correlates of Goal-Based Motor Selection in the Prefrontal Cortex

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Science  11 Jul 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5630, pp. 229-232
DOI: 10.1126/science.1084204

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Choosing an action that leads to a desired goal requires an understanding of the linkages between actions and their outcomes. We investigated neural mechanisms of such goal-based action selection. We trained monkeys on a task in which the relation between visual cues, action types, and reward conditions changed regularly, such that the monkeys selected their actions based on anticipated reward conditions. A significant number of neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex were activated, after cue presentation and before motor execution, only by particular action-reward combinations. This prefrontal activity is likely to underlie goal-based action selection.

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