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Published December 2011 | Published
Journal Article Open

Contributions of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex to goal-directed action selection


In this article, it will be argued that one of the key contributions of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) to goal-directed action selection lies both in retrieving the value of goals that are the putative outcomes of the decision process and in establishing a relative preference ranking for these goals by taking into account the value of each of the different goals under consideration in a given decision-making scenario. These goal-value signals are then suggested to be used as an input into the on-line computation of action values mediated by brain regions outside of the vmPFC, such as parts of the parietal cortex, supplementary motor cortex, and dorsal striatum. Collectively, these areas can be considered to be constituent elements of a multistage decision process whereby the values of different goals must first be represented and ranked before the value of different courses of action available for the pursuit of those goals can be computed.

Additional Information

© 2011 New York Academy of Sciences. Article first published online: 6 Dec. 2011. The author thanks Mimi Liljeholm and Seung-Lark Lim for helpful comments on the manuscript. This work is supported by grants to J.O.D. from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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