Neuronal activity in the primate dorsomedial prefrontal cortex contributes to strategic selection of response tactics
Yoshiya Matsuzaka, Tetsuya Akiyama, Jun Tanji, and Hajime Mushiake
PNAS 2012 109 (12) 4633-4638.
The functional roles of the primate posterior medial prefrontal cortex have remained largely unknown. Here, we show that this region participates in the regulation of actions in the presence of multiple response tactics. Monkeys performed a forelimb task in which a visual cue required prompt decision of reaching to a left or a right target. The location of the cue was either ipsilateral (concordant) or contralateral (discordant) to the target. As a result of extensive training, the reaction times for the concordant and discordant trials were indistinguishable, indicating that the monkeys developed tactics to overcome the cue-response conflict. Prefrontal neurons exhibited prominent activity when the concordant and discordant trials were randomly presented, requiring rapid selection of a response tactic (reach toward or away from the cue). The following findings indicate that these neurons are involved in the selection of tactics, rather than the selection of action or monitoring of response conflict: (i) The response period activity of neurons in this region disappeared when the monkeys performed the task under the behavioral condition that required a single tactic alone, whereas the action varied across trials. (ii) The neuronal activity was found in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex but not in the anterior cingulate cortex that has been implicated for the response conflict monitoring. These results suggest that the medial prefrontal cortex participates in the selection of a response tactic that determines an appropriate action. Furthermore, the observation of dynamic, task-dependent neuronal activity necessitates reconsideration of the conventional concept of cortical motor representation.