Differences between Neural Activity in Prefrontal Cortex and Striatum during Learning of Novel, Abstract Categories

Article, Other literature type English OPEN
Antzoulatos, Evan G. ; Miller, Earl K. (2011)
  • Publisher: Elsevier BV
  • Journal: Neuron, volume 71, issue 2, pages 243-249 (issn: 0896-6273)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.05.040
  • Subject: Neuroscience(all) | Article
    mesheuropmc: nervous system | education

Learning to classify diverse experiences into meaningful groups, like categories, is fundamental to normal cognition. To understand its neural basis, we simultaneously recorded from multiple electrodes in the lateral prefrontal cortex and dorsal striatum, two interconnected brain structures critical for learning. Each day, monkeys learned to associate novel, abstract dot-based categories with a right vs. left saccade. Early on, when they could acquire specific stimulus-response associations, striatum activity was an earlier predictor of the corresponding saccade. However, as the number of exemplars was increasing, and monkeys had to learn to classify them, PFC began predicting the saccade associated with each category before the striatum. While monkeys were categorizing novel exemplars at a high rate, PFC activity was a strong predictor of their corresponding saccade early in the trial, before the striatal neurons. These results suggest that striatum plays a greater role in stimulus-response association and PFC in abstraction of categories.
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