Neurons in primate prefrontal cortex signal valuable social information during natural viewing.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Information about social partners is innately valuable to primates. Decisions about which sources of information to consume are highly naturalistic but also complex and place unusually strong demands on the brain's decision network. In particular, both the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) play key roles in decision making and social behaviour, suggesting a likely role in social information-seeking as well. To test this idea, we developed a 'channel surfing' task in which monkeys were shown a series of 5 s video clips of conspecifics engaged in natural behaviours at a field site. Videos were annotated frame-by-frame using an ethogram of species-typical behaviours, an important source of social information. Between each clip, monkeys were presented with a choice between targets that determined which clip would be seen next. Monkeys' gaze during playback indicated differential engagement depending on what behaviours were presented. Neurons in both OFC and LPFC responded to choice targets and to video, and discriminated a subset of the behaviours in the ethogram during video viewing. These findings suggest that both OFC and LPFC are engaged in processing social information that is used to guide dynamic information-seeking decisions. This article is part of the theme issue 'Existence and prevalence of economic behaviours among non-human primates'.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Adams, GK; Ong, WS; Pearson, JM; Watson, KK; Platt, ML

Published Date

  • March 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 376 / 1819

Start / End Page

  • 20190666 -

PubMed ID

  • 33423624

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7815429

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-2970

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1098/rstb.2019.0666


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England