Taste-guided decisions differentially engage neuronal ensembles across gustatory cortices.
Much remains to be understood about the differential contributions from primary and secondary sensory cortices to sensory-guided decision making. To address this issue we simultaneously recorded activity from neuronal ensembles in primary [gustatory cortex GC)] and secondary gustatory [orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)] cortices while rats made a taste-guided decision between two response alternatives. We found that before animals commenced a response guided by a tastant cue, GC ensembles contained more information than OFC about the response alternative about to be selected. Thereafter, while the animal's response was underway, the response-selective information in ensembles from both regions increased, albeit to a greater degree in OFC. In GC, this increase depends on a representation of the taste cue guiding the animal's response. The increase in the OFC also depends on the taste cue guiding and other features of the response such as its spatiomotor properties and the behavioral context under which it is executed. Each of these latter features is encoded by different ensembles of OFC neurons that are recruited at specific times throughout the response selection process. These results indicate that during a taste-guided decision task both primary and secondary gustatory cortices dynamically encode different types of information.
MacDonald, CJ; Meck, WH; Simon, SA; Nicolelis, MAL
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