Neurons in anterior cingulate cortex multiplex information about reward and action.
The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is thought to play a critical role in forming associations between rewards and actions. Currently available physiological data, however, remain inconclusive regarding the question of whether dACC neurons carry information linking particular actions to reward or, instead, encode abstract reward information independent of specific actions. Here we show that firing rates of a majority of dACC neurons in a population studied in an eight-option variably rewarded choice task were sensitive to both saccade direction and reward value. Furthermore, the influences of reward and saccade direction on neuronal activity were approximately equal in magnitude over the range of rewards tested and were statistically independent. Our results indicate that dACC neurons multiplex information about both reward and action, endorsing the idea that this area links motivational outcomes to behavior and undermining the notion that its neurons solely contribute to reward processing in the abstract.
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