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Neurons, Decision making, Behavior, Tetrodes, Raster plots, Neuronal tuning, Action potentials, Coding mechanisms


To respond adaptively to change organisms must utilize information about recent events and environmental context to select actions that are likely to produce favorable outcomes. We developed a dynamic delayed nonmatching to position task to study the influence of spatial context on event-related activity of medial prefrontal cortex neurons during reinforcement-guided decision-making. We found neurons with responses related to preparation, movement, lever press responses, reinforcement, and memory delays. Combined event-related and video tracking analyses revealed variability in spatial tuning of neurons with similar event-related activity. While all correlated neurons exhibited spatial tuning broadly consistent with relevant task events, for instance reinforcement-related activity concentrated in locations where reinforcement was delivered, some had elevated activity in more specific locations, for instance reinforcement-related activity in one of several locations where reinforcement was delivered. Timing analyses revealed a limited set of distinct response types with activity time-locked to critical behavioral events that represent the temporal organization of dDNMTP trials. Our results suggest that reinforcement-guided decision-making emerges from discrete populations of medial prefrontal neurons that encode information related to planned or ongoing movements and actions and anticipated or actual action-outcomes in conjunction with information about spatial context.


© 2016 Onos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.