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In this issue of Neuron, Bari et al. (2019) show that neurons in medial frontal cortex, but not a nearby premotor area, encode the relative value of available options with long-lasting persistent activity states during naturalistic foraging. These long-lasting activity states serve to preferentially guide choices to more likely rewarded options.
Parcellation of the orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and inferior frontal gyrus based on their functional connectivity with the whole brain in resting state fMRI with 654 participants was performed to investigate how these regions with different functions in reward, emotion and their disorders are functionally connected to each other and to the whole brain. The human medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the right and ...
In this issue of Neuron, Yokoi and Diedrichsen (2019) use a finger keyboard task to show that sequences are widely represented across cortex but that only single elements are represented in primary motor cortex. These results suggest that sequence tasks primarily probe the ability to order discreet actions rather than to execute a skilled continuous sequential action.
Seemingly, a paradox exists between reports of wide-scale task-dependent cortical activity and the causal requirement for only a restricted number of motor and sensory cortical areas in some behavioral studies. In this issue of Neuron, Pinto et al. (2019) indicate that scenarios where mice must accumulate evidence and hold it during a delay period are causally linked to wide regions of cortex.
The criticality hypothesis predicts that cortex operates near a critical point for optimum information processing. In this issue of Neuron, Ma et al. (2019) find evidence consistent with a mechanism that tunes cortex to criticality, even in the face of a strong perturbation over several days.
We used fMRI to dissociate decisional and perceptual functions in color categorization. Participants viewed sequences of colored squares which varied in perceptual distance (0, 1 or 2 hue steps) and color (green, blue) and then judged whether one or two colors were present. Occipital, caudate, and anterior insula regions were active when more than one hue was presented, indicating a role in perceptual processing and attentional monitoring. Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex showed greater activity when two colo...
A fundamental and recurrent question in systems neuroscience is that of assessing what variables are encoded by a given population of neurons. Such assessments are often challenging because neurons in one brain area may encode multiple variables, and because neuronal representations might be categorical or non-categorical. These issues are particularly pertinent to the representation of decision variables in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC)-an area implicated in economic choices. Here we present a new algorit...
Brief psychotic disorder (BPD) is a relatively rare representative of psychotic disorders. Structural brain abnormalities in BPD are not known. We compared 30 patients with BPD and 30 matched healthy controls using high-resolution structural T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We performed cortical/subcortical reconstruction and volumetric segmentation using FreeSurfer v6.0. Results revealed that the caudal/rostral middle frontal cortex, superior frontal cortex, and the frontal pole were significa...
Age plays a significant role in executive control processes in the Stroop task. This study aims to draw together the Stroop tasks to determine the role of the frontal cortex in cognitive control among healthy young adults using activation likelihood estimation. Forty-six studies were selected according to the fMRI neuroimaging tools, Stroop experimental tasks, young participants' age. The results showed that the contrast of incongruent conditions and congruent conditions revealed 7 significant clusters, inc...
Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) predicts the consequences of our actions and updates our expectations based on experienced outcomes. In this issue of Neuron, Groman et al. (2019) precisely ablate pathways between the OFC, amygdala, and nucleus accumbens to reveal their separable contributions to reinforcement learning.
In this issue of Neuron, O'Sullivan et al. (2019) measured electro-cortical responses to "cocktail party" speech mixtures in neurosurgical patients and demonstrated that the selective enhancement of attended speech is achieved through the adaptive weighting of primary auditory cortex output by non-primary auditory cortex.
Fundamental research into early circuits of the neocortex provides insight into the etiology of mental illness. In this issue of Neuron, Chini et al. (2020) probe the consequences of combined genetic and environmental perturbation on emergent network activity in the prefrontal cortex, identifying a window for possible intervention.
Empirical and theoretical work suggests that early postnatal experience may inform later developing synaptic connectivity to adapt the brain to its environment. We hypothesized that early maternal experience may program the development of synaptic density on long range frontal cortex projections. To test this idea, we used maternal separation (MS) to generate environmental variability and examined how MS affected 1) maternal care and 2) synapse density on virally-labeled long range axons of offspring reared...
The infralimbic prefrontal cortex serves complex roles in controlling drug-seeking behavior. In this issue of Neuron, Cameron et al. (2019) provide new insights into engagement and function of the infralimbic cortex → nucleus accumbens corticostriatal pathway in the incubation of cocaine craving.
One of the most abundant proteins expressed in the brain, 14-3-3 comprises about 1% of the brain's total soluble proteins. The 14-3-3 isoforms bind to specific phosphoserine- and phosphothreonine-containing motifs found on a variety of signaling proteins (kinases and transcription factors, among others) to regulate a wide array of cellular processes including cell cycling, apoptosis, and autophagy. Previously, we described the expression of different 14-3-3 isoforms in the rat frontal cortex and reported th...
The current model of the organization of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) episodic memory system assumes that two functionally different "where" and "what" pathways enter MTL as parallel parahippocampal cortex (PHC)-medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) and perirhinal cortex (PER)-lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC) streams, respectively. With the use of tract tracing and in vitro electrophysiological recordings, we show that, in the rat LEC, all main principal neuron types in layer II receive convergent inputs from PE...
Cigarette smoking during pregnancy is a major public health concern, resulting in detrimental health effects in the mother and her offspring. The adverse behavioral consequences for children include increased risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, working memory deficits, epilepsy, novelty-seeking, and risk-taking behaviors. Some of these behavioral conditions are consistent with an imbalance in frontal cortical excitatory (glutamate) and inhibitory (GABA) neurotransmitter signaling. We used a G...
Diagnostic work-up in motor neuron disease (MND) needs a quantitative biomarker of upper motor neuron (UMN) impairment. We investigated the susceptibility properties of the precentral cortex in a cohort of patients affected by Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to obtain a useful biomarker of UMN impairment in a fully automatic paradigm.
Previous neuroimaging studies examining relations between alcohol misuse and cortical thickness have revealed that increased drinking quantity and alcohol-related problems are associated with thinner cortex. Although conflicting regional effects are often observed, associations are generally localized to frontal regions (e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [DLPFC], inferior frontal gyrus [IFG], and anterior cingulate cortex). Inconsistent findings may be attributed to methodological differences, modest sam...
It is not well understood how associations between two temporally removed stimuli form. In this issue of Neuron, Guo et al. (2019) implicate basal forebrain cholinergic neurons as providing a link between auditory cues and the aversive outcomes they predict.
The prefrontal cortex modifies the sensory system to focus attention. In this issue of Neuron, Nakajima et al. (2019) fill the gap between the prefrontal cortex and the sensory system with an overlooked basal ganglia pathway.
Frontal areas of the mammalian cortex are thought to be important for cognitive control and complex behaviour. These areas have been studied mostly in humans, non-human primates and rodents. In this article, we present a quantitative characterization of response properties of a frontal auditory area responsive to sound in the brain of Carollia perspicillata, the frontal auditory field (FAF). Bats are highly vocal animals and they constitute an important experimental model for studying the auditory system. W...
Previous research associated the left inferior frontal cortex with implicit structure learning. The present study tested patients with lesions encompassing the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG; including Brodmann areas 44 and 45) to further investigate this cognitive function, notably by using non-verbal material, implicit investigation methods, and by enhancing potential remaining function via dynamic attending. Patients and healthy matched controls were exposed to an artificial pitch grammar in an implic...
Although the neural basis underlying visuospatial reasoning has been widely explored by neuroimaging techniques, the brain activation patterns during naturalistic visuospatial reasoning such as tangram remains unclear. In this study, the directional functional connectivity of fronto-parietal networks during the tangram task was carefully inspected by using combined functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and conditional Granger causality analysis (GCA). Meanwhile, the causal networks during the tradit...
Object identification and enumeration rely on the ability to distinguish, or individuate, objects from the background. Does multiple object individuation operate only over bounded, separable objects or does it operate equally over connected features within a single object? While previous fMRI experiments suggest that connectedness affects the processing and enumeration of objects, recent behavioral and EEG studies demonstrated that parallel individuation occurs over both object parts and distinct objects. H...