Stimulus-Related Activity during Conditional Associations in Monkey Perirhinal Cortex Neurons Depends on Upcoming Reward Outcome
Kaoru Ohyama, Yasuko Sugase-Miyamoto, Narihisa Matsumoto, Munetaka Shidara, and Chikara Sato
J. Neurosci. 2012;32 17407-17419
Acquiring the significance of events based on reward-related information is critical for animals to survive and to conduct social activities. The importance of the perirhinal cortex for reward-related information processing has been suggested. To examine whether or not neurons in this cortex represent reward information flexibly when a visual stimulus indicates either a rewarded or unrewarded outcome, neuronal activity in the macaque perirhinal cortex was examined using a conditional-association cued-reward task. The task design allowed us to study how the neuronal responses depended on the animal's prediction of whether it would or would not be rewarded. Two visual stimuli, a color stimulus as Cue1 followed by a pattern stimulus as Cue2, were sequentially presented. Each pattern stimulus was conditionally associated with both rewarded and unrewarded outcomes depending on the preceding color stimulus. We found an activity depending upon the two reward conditions during Cue2, i.e., pattern stimulus presentation. The response appeared after the response dependent upon the image identity of Cue2. The response delineating a specific cue sequence also appeared between the responses dependent upon the identity of Cue2 and reward conditions. Thus, when Cue1 sets the context for whether or not Cue2 indicates a reward, this region represents the meaning of Cue2, i.e., the reward conditions, independent of the identity of Cue2. These results suggest that neurons in the perirhinal cortex do more than associate a single stimulus with a reward to achieve flexible representations of reward information.