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Observational learning computations in neurons of the human anterior cingulate cortex

Hill, Michael R. and Boorman, Erie D. and Fried, Itzhak (2016) Observational learning computations in neurons of the human anterior cingulate cortex. Nature Communications, 7 . Art. No. 12722. ISSN 2041-1723. PMCID PMC5025858.

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When learning from direct experience, neurons in the primate brain have been shown to encode a teaching signal used by algorithms in artificial intelligence: the reward prediction error (PE)—the difference between how rewarding an event is, and how rewarding it was expected to be. However, in humans and other species learning often takes place by observing other individuals. Here, we show that, when humans observe other players in a card game, neurons in their rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) encode both the expected value of an observed choice, and the PE after the outcome was revealed. Notably, during the same task neurons recorded in the amygdala (AMY) and the rostromedial prefrontal cortex (rmPFC) do not exhibit this type of encoding. Our results suggest that humans learn by observing others, at least in part through the encoding of observational PEs in single neurons in the rACC.

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Fried, Itzhak0000-0002-5962-2678
Additional Information:© 2016 The Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit Received: 23 October 2015; Accepted: 27 July 2016; Published online: 06 September 2016. We thank C. Koch for providing infrastructure and support and for reading the manuscript; T. Behrens for helpful discussion; P. Tobler and M. Carroll for reading the manuscript; F. Mormann for support; and S. Jbabdi for technical assistance. Funding was provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation (PBSKP3-124730), the G. Harold & Leila Y. Mathers Foundation (09212007) and the Wellcome Trust (WT088977MF). Contributions: M.R.H. did the experimental work, analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript; E.D.B. analyzed data and wrote the manuscript; M.R.H. and E.D.B. designed the study; all patients participating in this study were under I.F.’s clinical supervision, I.F. performed the surgery and commented on the analysis and the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)PBSKP3-124730
G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation09212007
Wellcome TrustWT088977MF
PubMed Central ID:PMC5025858
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160912-094917994
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Official Citation:Hill, M. R. et al. Observational learning computations in neurons of the human anterior cingulate cortex. Nat. Commun. 7:12722 doi: 10.1038/ncomms12722 (2016)
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:70277
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Sep 2016 18:34
Last Modified:21 Apr 2020 17:27

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