Conference Program

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Prefrontal Contributions to the Good-to-action Transformation in Economic Choice

By Xinying Cai, NYU Shanghai

Xinying Cai
NYU Shanghai

Economic decision-making entails a series of mental processes. Multiple determinants on which each option can vary are integrated into a subjective value. The decision is then made by comparing values. Previous work indicates that economic decisions can be made independently of the visuo-motor contingencies of the choice task (in the space of goods). However, the neuronal mechanisms through which the choice outcome (the chosen good) is transformed into a suitable action plan remain poorly understood. In my talk, I will show that neurons in the lateral prefrontal cortex reflect the early stages of this good-to-action transformation. In my experiment, monkeys chose between different juices. The experimental design dissociated in space and time the presentation of the offers and the saccade targets associated with them. I recorded from the orbital, ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal as well as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortices (OFC, LPFCv, LPFCd and ACCd respectively). Prior to target presentation, neurons in both LPFCv and LPFCd encoded the choice outcome in goods space while after target presentation they gradually came to encode the location of the targets and the upcoming action plan, reflecting the good-to-action transformation. In addition, consistent with the anatomical connectivity, all spatial and action-related signals emerged earlier in LPFCv than that in LPFCd.