Category-dependent and category-independent goal-value codes in human ventromedial prefrontal cortex
To choose between manifestly distinct options, it is suggested that the brain assigns values to goals using a common currency. Although previous studies have reported activity in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) correlating with the value of different goal stimuli, it remains unclear whether such goal-value representations are independent of the associated stimulus categorization, as required by a common currency. Using multivoxel pattern analyses on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, we found a region of medial prefrontal cortex to contain a distributed goal-value code that is independent of stimulus category. More ventrally in the vmPFC, we found spatially distinct areas of the medial orbitofrontal cortex to contain unique category-dependent distributed value codes for food and consumer items. These results implicate the medial prefrontal cortex in the implementation of a common currency and suggest a ventral versus dorsal topographical organization of value signals in the vmPFC.
Additional Information© 2013 Nature Publishing Group. Received 03 December 2012. Accepted 24 January 2013. Published online 17 February 2013. We thank V. Chib and E. Boorman for helpful discussions, and J. Stanley for assistance. This work was funded by Science Foundation Ireland grant 08/IN.1/B1844 and a grant from the Gordon and Betty foundation (to J.P.O.). Author Contributions: D.M., A.R. and J.P.O. designed the experiment. D.M. acquired and analyzed the data. D.M., A.R. and J.P.O. wrote the manuscript. J.P.O. supervised the project. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Accepted Version - nihms448943.pdf
Supplemental Material - nn.3337-S1.pdf