Causal evidence of performance monitoring by neurons in posterior cingulate cortex during learning.


Journal Article

The posterior cingulate cortex (CGp) is a major hub of the default mode network (DMN), a set of cortical areas with high resting activity that declines during task performance. This relationship suggests that DMN activity contributes to mental processes that are antagonistic to performance. Alternatively, DMN may detect conditions under which performance is poor and marshal cognitive resources for improvement. To test this idea, we recorded activity of CGp neurons in monkeys performing a learning task while varying reward size and novelty. We found that CGp neurons responded to errors, and this activity was magnified by small reward and novel stimuli. Inactivating CGp with muscimol impaired new learning when rewards were small but had no effect when rewards were large; inactivation did not affect performance on well-learned associations. Thus, CGp, and by extension the DMN, may support learning, and possibly other cognitive processes, by monitoring performance and motivating exploration.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Heilbronner, SR; Platt, ML

Published Date

  • December 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 80 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1384 - 1391

PubMed ID

  • 24360542

Pubmed Central ID

  • 24360542

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-4199

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0896-6273

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.09.028


  • eng