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Theta-activity in anterior cingulate cortex predicts task rules and their adjustments following errors

Thilo Womelsdorf, Kevin Johnston, Martin Vinck, Stefan Everling and Nancy J. Kopell
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 107, No. 11 (March 16, 2010), pp. 5248-5253
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25664958
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Theta-activity in anterior cingulate cortex predicts task rules and their adjustments following errors
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Abstract

Accomplishing even simple tasks depend on neuronal circuits to configure how incoming sensory stimuli map onto responses. Controlling these stimulus-response (SR) mapping rules relies on a cognitive control network comprising the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Single neurons within the ACC convey information about currently relevant SR mapping rules and signal unexpected action outcomes, which can be used to optimize behavioral choices. However, its functional significance and the mechanistic means of interaction with other nodes of the cognitive control network remain elusive and poorly understood. Here, we report that core aspects of cognitive control are encoded by rhythmic theta-band activity within neuronal circuits in the ACC. Throughout task performance, theta-activity predicted which of two SR mapping rules will be established before processing visual target information. Task-selective theta-activity emerged particularly early during those trials, which required the adjustment of SR rules following an erroneous rule representation in the preceding trial. These findings demonstrate a functional correlation of cognitive control processes and oscillatory theta-band activity in macaque ACC. Moreover, we report that spike output of a subset of cells in ACC is synchronized to predictive theta-activity, suggesting that the theta-cycle could serve as a temporal reference for coordinating local task selective computations across a larger network of frontal areas and the hippocampus to optimize and adjust the processing routes of sensory and motor circuits to achieve efficient sensory-motor control.

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