Social information signaling by neurons in primate striatum.
Social decisions depend on reliable information about others. Consequently, social primates are motivated to acquire information about the identity, social status, and reproductive quality of others. Neurophysiological and neuroimaging studies implicate the striatum in the motivational control of behavior. Neuroimaging studies specifically implicate the ventromedial striatum in signaling motivational aspects of social interaction. Despite this evidence, precisely how striatal neurons encode social information remains unknown. Therefore, we probed the activity of single striatal neurons in monkeys choosing between visual social information at the potential expense of fluid reward. We show for the first time that a population of neurons located primarily in medial striatum selectively signals social information. Surprisingly, representation of social information was unrelated to simultaneously expressed social preferences. A largely nonoverlapping population of neurons that was not restricted to the medial striatum signaled information about fluid reward. Our findings demonstrate that information about social context and nutritive reward are maintained largely independently in striatum, even when both influence decisions to execute a single action.
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