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The Orbitofrontal Cortex$
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David Zald and Scott Rauch

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198565741

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198565741.001.0001

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Involvement of primate orbitofrontal neurons in reward, uncertainty, and learning

Involvement of primate orbitofrontal neurons in reward, uncertainty, and learning

(p.173) Chapter 7 Involvement of primate orbitofrontal neurons in reward, uncertainty, and learning
The Orbitofrontal Cortex

Wolfram Schultz

Leon Tremblay

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews studies using neurophysiological recordings of the orbitofrontal cortex in behaving monkeys in order to understand the brain's representation of predictable future events of motivational significance. Orbitofrontal neurons respond to rewards and reward-related stimuli, and these responses are differentially and dynamically attributed through learning to events of specific motivational valence (rewards and punishers). Orbitofrontal neurons discriminate between different rewards based on quantity or preference, and adaptively respond to changes in reward contingencies. Critically, these reward-related responses are also activated in anticipation of future events. This expectation-related activity shows appropriate adaptations during learning allowing a transition from previous or default representations to expectations that are updated by the latest experience. The processing of reward predicting stimuli by the orbitofrontal cortex helps to reduce the uncertainty about which rewards will be available in the immediate future, helping to optimize decision-making in the face of risk and ambiguity.

Keywords:   reward, neurophysiology, expectancies, anticipation, preference, learning, discrimination, striatum, primate

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