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Published June 7, 2005 | Supplemental Material + Published
Journal Article Open

Electrophysiological correlates of reward prediction error recorded in the human prefrontal cortex


Lesion and functional imaging studies have shown that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is critically involved in the avoidance of risky choices. However, detailed descriptions of the mechanisms that underlie the establishment of such behaviors remain elusive, due in part to the spatial and temporal limitations of available research techniques. We investigated this issue by recording directly from prefrontal depth electrodes in a rare neurosurgical patient while he performed the Iowa Gambling Task, and we concurrently measured behavioral, autonomic, and electrophysiological responses. We found a robust alpha-band component of event-related potentials that reflected the mismatch between expected outcomes and actual outcomes in the task, correlating closely with the reward-related error obtained from a reinforcement learning model of the patient's choice behavior. The finding implicates this brain region in the acquisition of choice bias by means of a continuous updating of expectations about reward and punishment.

Additional Information

© 2005 the National Academy of Sciences. Edited by Marcus E. Raichle, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, and approved April 20, 2005 (received for review February 2, 2005). Published online before print May 31, 2005, 10.1073/pnas.0500899102 We thank J. F. Brugge, H. Damasio, T. W. Buchanan, E. Recknor, O. Kaufman, and I. O. Volkov for help with the studies, and Natalie Denburg and Daniel Tranel for help with neuropsychological assessment. This work was supported by grants from the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Gimbel Discovery Fund in Neuroscience. Author contributions: H.O., R.A., and A.B. designed research; H.O. and M.A.H. performed research; H.O. and H.K. analyzed data; and R.A., H.O., and A.D. wrote the paper. This paper was submitted directly (Track II) to the PNAS office.

Attached Files

Published - OYApnas05.pdf

Supplemental Material - OYApnas05suppfigs.pdf

Supplemental Material - OYApnas05suppmeth.pdf


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