Neuroscience

Risky firing of prefrontal neurons

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Science  08 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6427, pp. 596
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6427.596-b

Neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex can predict decision-making. Flexible decision-making, such as choices made during gambling, relies on unguided probabilistic evaluation. Passecker et al. show that a subclass of neurons in a subregion of the rat prefrontal cortex called the prelimbic cortex can foresee future choices. Rats were trained on a gambling task, during which they could choose between a large-but-uncertain reward or a small-but-certain one. When they did not receive a reward on a chosen maze arm, their prelimbic neuron firing pattern—observed well before executing their decision—anticipated the animals' next choice. When these cells are optogenetically silenced, rats display increased gambling behavior, taking more risks by opting for larger rewards. Disruption to the prelimbic cortex could lead to excessive risk taking.

Neuron 101, 152 (2019).

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