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Neurons in the Human Left Amygdala Automatically Encode Subjective Value Irrespective of Task

Mormann, F. and Bausch, M. and Knieling, S. and Fried, I. (2019) Neurons in the Human Left Amygdala Automatically Encode Subjective Value Irrespective of Task. Cerebral Cortex, 29 (1). pp. 265-272. ISSN 1047-3211.

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The amygdala plays an important role in the computation of internal reward signals. In animals it has been shown to enable a stimulus to indicate the current value of a reinforcer. However, the exact nature of the current value representations in humans remains unknown. Specifically, do neurons of the human amygdala represent current value signals only in tasks requiring valuation? We recorded from 406 neurons in the amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex, parahippocampal cortex, entorhinal cortex, and hippocampus of 6 neurosurgical patients while subjects repeatedly viewed 40 different pictures of sweet or salty “junk food” items in 2 different tasks. Neural activity during stimulus inspection in a valuation task reflected food preferences in the amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex, hippocampus, and entorhinal cortex. Notably, only left amygdala activity represented these food preferences even in a sweet–salty classification task. Valuation signals of the left amygdala thus appear to be stimulus-, not-task driven.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Mormann, F.0000-0003-1305-8028
Fried, I.0000-0002-5962-2678
Additional Information:© 2017 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press. Received: 29 June 2017; Revision Received: 13 November 2017; Accepted: 14 November 2017; Published: 01 December 2017. We thank all of our subjects for their participation, E. Behnke, T. Fields and V. Isiaka for technical assistance with the recordings, A. Rangel for help with the design of the study, and C. Koch for fruitful discussion. Authors’ Contributions: F.M. and I.F. designed the study. I.F. performed neurosurgical procedures. F.M. and I.F. collected the data. M.B. and F.M. analyzed the data. M.B. and F.M. wrote the article. S.K. assessed electrode localization. All authors discussed the results and commented on the article. Grants from the Volkswagen Foundation (Lichtenberg Program), the German Research Council (DFG MO930/4-1 and SFB 1089), the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS grant R01NS033221), and the Dana Foundation. Authors declare no conflict of interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Volkswagen FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)MO930/4-1
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)SFB 1089
Dana FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:amygdala, electrophysiology, reward value, single units
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171212-090724175
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Official Citation:F Mormann, M Bausch, S Knieling, I Fried; Neurons in the Human Left Amygdala Automatically Encode Subjective Value Irrespective of Task, Cerebral Cortex, Volume 29, Issue 1, 1 January 2019, Pages 265–272,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:83819
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Dec 2017 18:13
Last Modified:20 Dec 2018 19:06

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