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Published on November 8, 2019 | Updated on November 8, 2019

Vincent Fontanier

November 26, 2019


The role of the midcingulate cortex in the regulation of decisions to check

In natural situations, animals may interrupt their on-going actions to explore and check for
additional information on their environment to guide subsequent behaviors. Recent theories argue
that the midcingulate cortex (MCC) dynamically tracks the value of options to guide behavior away
from default or routine actions, and explore alternatives. Yet the qualitative role of MCC in the
regulation of decisions to check remains unknown.
We designed a so-called checking-task in which monkeys, while performing a default
categorization task, can at will seek information (provided by a visual gauge increasing in relation to
categorization performance) on an incoming reward bonus. We performed single unit recordings in
MCC and lateral prefrontal cortex in two monkeys doing the task (Stoll, Fontanier and Procyk, Nat.
Comm. 2016), and showed specific MCC neural dynamics for feedback processing, checking
decisions, as well as encoding of gauge size.
In this talk I will present the results of MCC pharmacological GABAA transmission
perturbation using either a GABA agonist (muscimol) or antagonist (bicuculline methiodide) on the
regulation of checking decisions. I will also describe how MCC neuronal activity fluctuates in time and
how such intrinsic timescale properties are linked to MCC’s role in cognition. In summary, combined
electrophysiological and pharmacological data suggest a key role of the MCC in the maintenance and
updating of information used to regulate exploratory decisions