Rhesus monkeys provide a valuable model for studying the basis of cognitive aging because they are vulnerable to age-related decline in executive function and memory in a manner similar to humans. Some of the behavioral tasks sensitive to the effects of aging are the delayed response working memory test, recognition memory tests including the delayed nonmatching-to-sample and the delayed recognition span task, and tests of executive function including reversal learning and conceptual set-shifting task. Much effort has been directed toward discovering the neurobiological parameters that are coupled to individual differences in age-related cognitive decline. Area 46 of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) has been extensively studied for its critical role in executive function while the hippocampus and related cortical regions have been a major target of research for memory function. Some of the key age-related changes in area 46 include decreases in volume, microcolumn strength, synapse density, and α1- and α2-adrenergic receptor binding densities. All of these measures significantly correlate with cognitive scores. Interestingly, the critical synaptic subtypes associated with cognitive function appear to be different between the dlPFC and the hippocampus. For example, the dendritic spine subtype most critical to task acquisition and vulnerable to aging in area 46 is the thin spine, whereas in the dentate gyrus, the density of large mushroom spines with perforated synapses correlates with memory performance. This review summarizes age-related changes in anatomical, neuronal, and synaptic parameters within brain areas implicated in cognition and whether these changes are associated with cognitive decline.
Aging; Area 46; Dentate gyrus; Executive function; Recognition memory; Perforated synapse
Age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) occurs in many mammalian species including humans. In contrast to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) where circuit disruption occurs through neuron death, AAMI is due to circuit and synapse disruption in the absence of significant neuron loss and thus may be more amenable to prevention or treatment. We have investigated the effects of aging on pyramidal neurons and synapse density in Layer III of area 46 in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of young and aged, male and female Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) that were tested for cognitive status through the delayed non-matching-to-sample (DNMS) and delayed response (DR) tasks. Cognitive tests revealed an age-related decrement in both acquisition and performance on DNMS. Our morphometric analyses revealed both an age-related loss of spines (33%, p< 0.05) on pyramidal cells and decreased density of axo-spinous synapses (32%, p<0.01) in layer III of area 46. In addition, there was an age-related shift in the distribution of spine types reflecting a selective vulnerability of small, thin spines, thought to be particularly plastic and linked to learning. While both synapse density and the overall spine size average of an animal were predictive of number of trials required for acquisition of DNMS (i.e., learning the task), the strongest correlate of behavior was found to be the head volume of thin spines, with no correlation between behavior and mushroom spine size or density. No synaptic index correlated with memory performance once the task was learned.
aging; dendritic spines; primate; prefrontal cortex; cognition; plasticity
Neonatal hippocampal damage in rodents impairs medial prefrontal working memory functions. To examine whether similar impairment will follow the same damage in primates, adult monkeys with neonatal hippocampal lesions and sham-operated controls were trained on two working memory tasks. The Session Unique-Delayed Non-Match-to-Sample (SU-DNMS) measures maintenance of information in working memory mediated by the ventral lateral prefrontal cortex. The Object Self-Ordered Task (Obj-SO) measures monitoring of information in working memory mediated by the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Adult monkeys with neonatal hippocampal lesions performed as well as sham-operated controls on SU-DNMS at either the 5 or 30s delays, but were severely impaired on the Obj-SO task. These results extend the earlier findings in rodents by demonstrating that early lesions of the hippocampus in monkeys impair working memory processes known to require the integrity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, while sparing lower-order working memory processes, such as recency. Although the present results suggest that the lack of functional hippocampal inputs may have altered the maturation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, future studies will be needed to determine whether the nature of the observed working memory deficit is due to an absence of the hippocampus, a maldevelopment of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or both.
neonatal lesion; working memory; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; schizophrenia
In rat hippocampus, estrogen receptor-alpha (ER-α) can initiate non-genomic signaling mechanisms that modulate synaptic plasticity in response to either circulating or locally synthesized estradiol (E). Here we report quantitative electron microscopic data demonstrating that ER-α is present within excitatory synapses in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) of young and aged ovariectomized female rhesus monkeys with and without E treatment. There were no treatment or age effects on the percentage of excitatory synapses containing ER-α, nor were there any group differences in distribution of ER-α within the synapse. However, the mean size of synapses containing ER-α was larger than unlabeled excitatory synapses. All monkeys were tested on delayed response (DR), a cognitive test of working memory that requires dlPFC. In young ovariectomized monkeys without E treatment, presynaptic ER-α correlated with DR accuracy across memory delays. In aged monkeys that received E treatment, ER-α within the postsynaptic density (30–60 nm from the synaptic membrane) positively correlated with DR performance. Thus, while the lack of group effects suggests that ER-α is primarily in synapses that are stable across age and treatment, synaptic abundance of ER-α is correlated with individual performance in two key age/treatment groups. These data have important implications for individual differences in the cognitive outcome among menopausal women and promote a focus on cortical estrogen receptors for therapeutic efficacy with respect to cognition.
estradiol; menopause; aging; cognition; dendritic spines; electron microscopy
To examine the generality of cholinergic involvement in visual memory in primates, we trained macaque monkeys either on an object-in-place scene learning task or in delayed nonmatching-to-sample (DNMS). Each monkey received either selective cholinergic depletion of inferotemporal cortex (including the entorhinal cortex and perirhinal cortex) with injections of the immunotoxin ME20.4-saporin or saline injections as a control and was postoperatively retested. Cholinergic depletion of inferotemporal cortex was without effect on either task. Each monkey then received fornix transection because previous studies have shown that multiple disconnections of temporal cortex can produce synergistic impairments in memory. Fornix transection mildly impaired scene learning in monkeys that had received saline injections but severely impaired scene learning in monkeys that had received cholinergic lesions of inferotemporal cortex. This synergistic effect was not seen in monkeys performing DNMS. These findings confirm a synergistic interaction in a macaque monkey model of episodic memory between connections carried by the fornix and cholinergic input to the inferotemporal cortex. They support the notion that the mnemonic functions tapped by scene learning and DNMS have dissociable neural substrates. Finally, cholinergic depletion of inferotemporal cortex, in this study, appears insufficient to impair memory functions dependent on an intact inferotemporal cortex.
acetylcholine; hippocampus; macaque; monkey; temporal lobe
The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) plays an important role in working memory, including the control of memory-guided response. In this study, with 24 subjects, we used high frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to evaluate the role of the dlPFC in memory-guided response to two different types of spatial working memory tasks: one requiring a recognition decision about a probe stimulus (operationalized with a yes/no button press), another requiring direct recall of the memory stimulus by moving a cursor to the remembered location. In half the trials, randomly distributed, rTMS was applied to the dlPFC and in a separate session, the superior parietal lobule (SPL), a brain area implicated in spatial working memory storage. A 10-Hz (3 sec., 110% of motor threshold) train of TMS was delivered at the onset of the response period. We found that only dlPFC rTMS significantly affected performance, with rTMS of right dlPFC decreasing accuracy on delayed-recall trials, and rTMS of left and right dlPFC decreasing and enhancing accuracy, respectively, on delayed-recognition trials. These findings confirm that the dlPFC plays an important role in memory-guided response, and suggest that the nature of this role varies depending on the processes required for making a response.
working memory; spatial; recall; recognition; response; TMS
Schizophrenia patients and their relatives show aberrant functional connectivity in default network regions (DRs) such as the medial prefrontal, lateral temporal, cingulate and inferior parietal cortices and executive regions such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Gray-matter volumetric alterations may be related to these functional connectivity deficits. Also, gray-matter volume inter-regional correlations may reflect altered inter-regional functional connectivity.
To examine our prediction of alterations of gray-matter volumes and inter-regional volume correlations for DRs and the DLPFC in offspring of schizophrenia patients (OS).
We assessed 64 adolescent and young adult OS and 80 healthy controls (HC) using T1-MRI. Regional gray-matter volumes and inter-regional volume correlations between the DRs and between the DLPFC and DRs on each side were compared across groups.
Compared to HC, OS had reductions in several DRs and the DLPFC after controlling age, gender, and intra-cranial volume, and correcting for multiple comparisons. OS had stronger (more positive) gray-matter volume inter-correlations between DRs and between DRs and the DLPFC.
Volumetric deficits in the default network and in the DLPFC may be related to familial diathesis to schizophrenia and to functional connectivity abnormalities in those at familial risk. Increased inter-correlations between DRs and between DR and DLPFC gray-matter volumes may serve as surrogate indices of abnormal functional connectivity.
Default network; Dorso lateral prefrontal cortex; Inter-regional correlations; Functional connectivity
Age-related memory impairment occurs in many mammalian species including humans. Moreover, women undergoing the menopausal transition often complain of problems with memory. We recently reported that rhesus monkeys display age- and menopause-related recognition memory impairment on a hippocampus-reliant test (delayed nonmatching-to-sample; DNMS). In the same monkeys, perforated synapse densities in the dentate gyrus outer molecular layer (OML) correlated with DNMS recognition accuracy, while total axospinous synapse density was similar across age and menses groups. The current study examined whether synaptic characteristics of OML axonal boutons are coupled with age- or menopause-related memory deficits. Using serial section electron microscopy, we measured the frequencies of single-synapse boutons (SSBs), multiple-synapse boutons (MSBs), and boutons with no apparent synaptic contacts (non-synaptic boutons, NSBs) in the OML. Aged females had double the percentage of NSBs as compared to young females and this measure correlated positively and inversely with DNMS acquisition (number of trials to criterion) and delay performance (average accuracy), respectively. Aged compared to young females also had a lower frequency of MSBs and a lower number of synaptic contacts per MSB, and the latter variable inversely correlated with DNMS acquisition. Although proportions of NSBs, SSBs and MSBs were similar across menses groups, compared to pre-menopausal monkeys, peri/post-menopausal monkeys had fewer MSBs contacting one or more segmented perforated synapse and the abundance of this bouton subtype positively correlated with DNMS performance. These results suggest that age- and menopause-related shifts in OML synaptic subtypes may be coupled with deficits in task acquisition and recognition memory.
delayed nonmatching-to-sample test; menopause; multiple-synapse bouton; serial sections; recognition memory
Neurons in a distributed network of cortical and subcortical areas continue to discharge after the presentation and disappearance of stimuli, providing a neural correlate for working memory. While it is thought that the prefrontal cortex plays a central role in this network, the relative contributions of other brain areas are not as well understood. In order to compare the contributions of the dorsolateral prefrontal and posterior parietal cortex, we recorded neurophysiological activity in monkeys trained to perform two different visuo-spatial working memory tasks: a Match/Nonmatch task, and a Spatial Delayed-Match-to-Sample Task. Neurons in both areas exhibited discharges in the delay periods of the tasks that could be classified in two forms. Sustained discharges persisted after the presentation of a stimulus in the receptive field with a constant or declining rate. Anticipatory responses increased in rate during the delay period, often appearing after presentation of a stimulus out of the receptive field. Despite similarities, we uncovered distinct differences between patterns of delay period in each brain area. Only in the prefrontal cortex sustained responses related to the original stimulus survived presentation of a second stimulus, in the context of the Match/Nonmatch task. Our results provide insights on the nature of processing in two areas active during working memory, and on the unique role of the prefrontal cortex in memory maintenance.
monkey; neurophysiology; vision; principal sulcus; intraparietal sulcus; persistent activity; spatial memory
There is continuing controversy about the extent to which the rodent medial prefrontal cortical area (mPFC) is functionally homologous to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in humans and non-human primates. Previous studies have compared the effects of mPFC lesions in rats to those of dorsolateral prefrontal lesions in working memory, strategy switching, and temporal ordering. None, however, have examined the role of the rodent mPFC in recognition memory, wherein in humans, dorsolateral prefrontal damage results in a deficit in source monitoring resulting in impaired recollection. In the present study, we examined recognition memory in rats with bilateral mPFC lesions (PL/IL; ibotenic acid) using a variant of a non-match-to-sample task with manipulations of response bias that allowed for a signal detection analysis that distinguishes recollection and familiarity contributions to recognition memory. Animals with medial prefrontal lesions had a modest overall deficit in recognition with no general change in their tendency to elicit “old” or “new” responses. Signal detection analyses indicated that rats with mPFC damage had a curvilinear and symmetrical ROC curve, compared to a curvilinear and asymmetrical ROC curve in control subjects, indicating that mPFC damage severely reduced recollection-based performance, while sparing familiarity. The recollection failure was associated with an impaired ability to reject new items (increased false alarm rate), whereas the identification of old items (hit rate) was normal. This pattern of findings is similar to that observed in humans with dorsolateral prefrontal damage and is complementary to the selective deficit in hit rate observed following hippocampal damage.
prefrontal cortex; prelimbic; rat; recognition memory; recollection; familiarity
Attentional biases have been proposed to contribute to symptom maintenance in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), although the neural correlates of these processes have not been well defined; this was the goal of the present study. We administered an attention bias task, the dot probe, to a sample of 37 (19 control, 18 PTSD+) traumatized African-American adults during fMRI. Compared to controls, PTSD+ participants demonstrated increased activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) in response to threat cue trials. In addition, attentional avoidance of threat corresponded with increased ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) activation in the PTSD group, a pattern that was not observed in controls. These data provide evidence to suggest that relative increases in dlPFC, dACC and vlPFC activation represent neural markers of attentional bias for threat in individuals with PTSD, reflecting selective disruptions in attentional control and emotion processing networks in this disorder.
Attention bias; PTSD; Threat; fMRI; Prefrontal cortex; Neuroimaging; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Anterior cingulate cortex; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Cognition
Performance of memory tasks is impaired by lesions to either the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) or the hippocampus (HPC); although how these two areas contribute to successful performance is not well understood. mPFC unit activity is temporally affected by hippocampal-theta oscillations, with almost half the mPFC population entrained to theta in behaving animals, pointing to theta interactions as the mechanism enabling collaborations between these two areas. mPFC neurons respond to sensory stimuli and responses in working memory tasks, though the function of these correlated firing rate changes remains unclear because similar responses are reported during mPFC dependent and independent tasks. Using a DNMS task we compared error trials vs. correct trials and found almost all mPFC cells fired at similar rates during both error and correct trials (92%), however theta-entrainment of mPFC neurons declined during error performance as only 17% of cells were theta-entrained (during correct trials 46% of the population was theta-entrained). Across the population, error and correct trials did not differ in firing rate, but theta-entrainment was impaired. Periods of theta-entrainment and firing rate changes appeared to be independent variables, and only theta-entrainment was correlated with successful performance, indicating mPFC-HPC theta-range interactions are the key to successful DNMS performance.
working memory; prefrontal cortex; hippocampus; theta rhythm
In the past few decades it has become clear that estrogen signaling plays a much larger role in modulating the cognitive centers of the brain than previously thought possible. We have developed a nonhuman primate (NHP) model to investigate the relationships between estradiol (E) and cognitive aging. Our studies of cyclical E treatment in ovariectomized (OVX) young and aged rhesus monkeys have revealed compelling cognitive and synaptic effects of E in the context of aging. Delayed response (DR), a task that is particularly dependent on integrity of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) area 46 revealed the following: 1) that young OVX rhesus monkeys perform equally well whether treated with E or vehicle (V), and 2) that aged OVX animals given E perform as well as young adults with or without E, whereas OVX V-treated aged animals display significant DR impairment. We have analyzed the structure of layer III pyramidal cells in area 46 in these same monkeys. We found both age and treatment effects on these neurons that are consistent with behavioral data. Briefly, reconstructions of pyramidal neurons in area 46 from these monkeys showed that cyclical E increased the density of small, thin spines in both young and aged monkeys. However, this effect of E was against a background of age-related loss of small, thin spines, leaving aged V-treated monkeys with a particularly low density of these highly plastic spines and vulnerable to cognitive decline. Our current interpretation is that E not only plays a critically important role in maintaining spine number, but also enables synaptic plasticity through a cyclical increase in small highly plastic spines that may be stabilized in the context of learning. Interestingly, recent studies demonstrate that chronic E is less effective at inducing spinogenesis than cyclical E. We have begun to link certain molecular attributes of excitatory synapses in area 46 to E effects and cognitive performance in these monkeys. Given the importance of synaptic estrogen receptor α (ER-α) in rat hippocampus, we focused our initial studies on synaptic ER-α in area 46. Three key findings have emerged from these studies: 1) synaptic ER-α is present in axospinous synapses in area 46; 2) it is stable across treatment and age groups (which is not the case in rat hippocampus); and 3) the abundance and distribution of synaptic ER-α is a key correlate of individual variation in cognitive performance in certain age and treatment groups. These findings have important implications for the design of hormone treatment strategies for both surgically and naturally menopausal women.
Prefrontal cortex; estrogen; aging; primate; cognition; hormone replacement therapy
Visual short-term memory tasks depend upon both the inferior temporal cortex (ITC) and the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Activity in some neurons persists after the first (sample) stimulus is shown. This delay-period activity has been proposed as an important mechanism for working memory. In ITC neurons, intervening (nonmatching) stimuli wipe out the delay-period activity; hence, the role of ITC in memory must depend upon a different mechanism. Here, we look for a possible mechanism by contrasting memory effects in two architectonically different parts of ITC: area TE and the perirhinal cortex. We found that a large proportion (80%) of stimulus-selective neurons in area TE of macaque ITCs exhibit a memory effect during the stimulus interval. During a sequential delayed matching-to-sample task (DMS), the noise in the neuronal response to the test image was correlated with the noise in the neuronal response to the sample image. Neurons in perirhinal cortex did not show this correlation. These results led us to hypothesize that area TE contributes to short-term memory by acting as a matched filter. When the sample image appears, each TE neuron captures a static copy of its inputs by rapidly adjusting its synaptic weights to match the strength of their individual inputs. Input signals from subsequent images are multiplied by those synaptic weights, thereby computing a measure of the correlation between the past and present inputs. The total activity in area TE is sufficient to quantify the similarity between the two images. This matched filter theory provides an explanation of what is remembered, where the trace is stored, and how comparison is done across time, all without requiring delay period activity. Simulations of a matched filter model match the experimental results, suggesting that area TE neurons store a synaptic memory trace during short-term visual memory.
To know whether one is looking at an object seen a few seconds ago or not depends on visual short-term memory. To study short-term memory, we recorded single neuronal activity from two brain areas of monkeys, the TE and the perirhinal cortex of the temporal lobe, known to be important in visual pattern recognition and memory. The monkeys performed a short-term visual memory task, a sequential match-to-sample. The monkeys had to signal when a sample stimulus reappeared in a short sequence of stimuli. In area TE only, small fluctuations occurring for a sample-elicited response were correlated with the responses when a match stimulus reappeared, as if a snapshot of the sample-induced response was stored and recalled. In our modeling, we propose that each TE neuron stores and compares the signals during short-term memory by storing the response to the sample in local and rapidly adapting synapses. Subsequent stimulus-elicited responses are then automatically multiplied by the locally stored signal. Here, we show that the match can be detected when the sum of the outputs of the population of TE neurons crosses a threshold. Correlated fluctuations will be a signature this type of local memory storage wherever it occurs in the brain.
Postmortem studies have documented abnormalities in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) in depressed subjects. In this study we used magnetic resonance imaging to test for dlPFC volume differences between older depressed and non-depressed individuals. Eighty-eight subjects meeting DSM IV criteria for major depressive disorder and thirty-five control subjects completed clinical evaluations and cranial 3T magnetic resonance imaging. After tissue types were identified using an automated segmentation process, the dlPFC was measured in both hemispheres using manual delineation based on anatomical landmarks. Depressed subjects had significantly lower gray matter in left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (standardized to cerebral parenchyma) after controlling for age and sex. Our study confirmed the reduction of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in elderly depressed subjects, especially in the gray matter. These regional abnormalities may be associated with psychopathological changes in late-life depression.
magnetic resonance imaging; elderly; mood
Working memory is a dynamic neural system that includes processes for temporarily maintaining and processing information. Working memory plays a significant role in a variety of cognitive functions, such as thinking, reasoning, decision-making, and language comprehension. Although the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is known to play an important role in working memory, several lines of evidence indicate that the thalamic mediodorsal nucleus (MD) also participates in this process. While monkeys perform spatial working memory tasks, MD neurons exhibit directionally selective delay-period activity, which is considered to be a neural correlate for the temporary maintenance of information in PFC neurons. Studies have also shown that, while most MD neurons maintain prospective motor information, some maintain retrospective sensory information. Thus, the MD plays a greater role in prospective motor aspects of working memory processes than the PFC, which participates more in retrospective aspects. For the performance of spatial working memory tasks, the information provided by a sensory cue needs to be transformed into motor information to give an appropriate response. A population vector analysis using neural activities revealed that, although the transformation of sensory-to-motor information occurred during the delay period in both the PFC and the MD, PFC activities maintained sensory information until the late phase of the delay period, while MD activities initially represented sensory information but then started to represent motor information in the earlier phase of the delay period. These results indicate that long-range neural interactions supported by reciprocal connections between the MD and the PFC could play an important role in the transformation of maintained information in working memory processes.
thalamic mediodorsal nucleus; prefrontal cortex; spatial working memory; delayed-response; retrospective information; prospective information
Aged rhesus monkeys exhibit deficits in hippocampus-dependent memory, similar to aging humans. Here we explored the basis of cognitive decline by first testing young adult and aged monkeys on a standard recognition memory test (delayed nonmatching-to-sample test; DNMS). Next we quantified synaptic density and morphology in the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) outer (OML) and inner molecular layer (IML). Consistent with previous findings, aged monkeys were slow to learn DNMS initially, and they performed significantly worse than young subjects when challenged with longer retention intervals. Although OML and IML synaptic parameters failed to differ across the young and aged groups, the density of perforated synapses in the OML was coupled with recognition memory accuracy. Independent of chronological age, monkeys classified on the basis of menses data as peri/post-menopausal scored worse on DNMS, and displayed lower OML perforated synapse density, than pre-menopausal monkeys. These results suggest that naturally occurring reproductive senescence potently influences synaptic connectivity in the DG OML, contributing to individual differences in the course of normal cognitive aging.
delayed nonmatching-to-sample; disector method; estrogen; hippocampus; menopause; outer molecular layer; perforated synapse; post-synaptic density; recognition memory
Higher serum homocysteine (Hcy) levels in humans are associated with vascular pathology and greater risk for dementia, as well as lower global and regional volumes in frontal lobe and hippocampus. Calorie restriction (CR) in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) may confer neural protection against age- or Hcy-related vascular pathology. Hcy was collected proximal to an MRI acquisition in aged rhesus monkeys and regressed against volumetric and diffusion tensor imaging indices using voxel-wise analyses. Higher Hcy was associated with lower white matter volume in pons and corpus callosum. Hcy was correlated with lower gray matter volume and density in prefrontal cortices and striatum. CR did not influence Hcy levels. However, control monkeys exhibited a strong negative correlation between Hcy and global gray matter, whereas no relationship was evident for the CR monkeys. Similar group differences were also seen across modalities in the splenium of the corpus callosum, prefrontal cortices, hippocampus, and somatosensory areas. The data suggest that CR may ameliorate the influence of Hcy on several important age-related parameters of parenchymal health.
rhesus monkey; aging; homocysteine; neural atrophy; voxel-based morphometry; diffusion tensor imaging; caloric restriction; primate
Cognitive regulation is often used to influence behavioral outcomes. However, the computational and neurobiological mechanisms by which it affects behavior remain unknown. We studied this issue using an fMRI task in which human participants used cognitive regulation to up- and down-regulate their cravings for foods at the time of choice. We found that activity in both ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) correlated with value. We also found evidence that two distinct regulatory mechanisms were at work: value modulation, which operates by changing the values assigned to foods in vmPFC and dlPFC at the time of choice, and behavioral control modulation, which operates by changing the relative influence of the vmPFC and dlPFC value signals on the action selection process used to make choices. In particular, during down-regulation, activation decreased in the value-sensitive region of dlPFC (indicating value modulation) but not in vmPFC, and the relative contribution of the two value signals to behavior shifted towards the dlPFC (indicating behavioral control modulation). The opposite pattern was observed during up-regulation: activation increased in vmPFC but not dlPFC, and the relative contribution to behavior shifted towards the vmPFC. Finally, ventrolateral PFC and posterior parietal cortex were more active during both up- and down-regulation, and were functionally connected with vmPFC and dlPFC during cognitive regulation, which suggests that they help to implement the changes to the decision-making circuitry generated by cognitive regulation.
Cognitive regulation is often used to influence behavioral outcomes. However, the computational and neurobiological mechanisms by which it affects behavior remain unknown. We studied this issue using an fMRI task in which human participants used cognitive regulation to upregulate and downregulate their cravings for foods at the time of choice. We found that activity in both ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) correlated with value. We also found evidence that two distinct regulatory mechanisms were at work: value modulation, which operates by changing the values assigned to foods in vmPFC and dlPFC at the time of choice, and behavioral control modulation, which operates by changing the relative influence of the vmPFC and dlPFC value signals on the action selection process used to make choices. In particular, during downregulation, activation decreased in the value-sensitive region of dlPFC (indicating value modulation) but not in vmPFC, and the relative contribution of the two value signals to behavior shifted toward the dlPFC (indicating behavioral control modulation). The opposite pattern was observed during upregulation: activation increased in vmPFC but not dlPFC, and the relative contribution to behavior shifted toward the vmPFC. Finally, ventrolateral PFC and posterior parietal cortex were more active during both upregulation and downregulation, and were functionally connected with vmPFC and dlPFC during cognitive regulation, which suggests that they help to implement the changes to the decision-making circuitry generated by cognitive regulation.
Functional neuroimaging studies have produced contradictory data about the extent to which specific regions of the frontal and the posterior parietal cortices contribute to the retention of information in spatial working memory. We used high frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to assess the necessity for the short-term retention of spatial information of brain areas identified by previous functional imaging studies: dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), frontal eye fields (FEF), superior parietal lobule (SPL) and intraparietal sulcus (IPS). 10 Hz rTMS spanned the 3-sec delay period of a spatial delayed-recognition task. The postcentral gyrus (PCG) was included to control for any regionally nonspecific effects of rTMS. The only regionally specific effect was a significant decrease in reaction time when rTMS was applied to SPL. Additionally, rTMS lowered accuracy to a greater extent when applied to left than to right hemisphere, and was more disruptive when applied contralaterally vs. ipsilaterally to the visual field in which the memory probe was presented. Although seemingly paradoxical, the finding of rTMS-induced improvement in task performance has a precedent, and is consistent with the idea that regions associated with spatial sensory-motor processing make necessary contributions to the short-term retention of this information. Possible factors underlying rTMS-induced behavioral facilitation are considered.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Working memory; Prefrontal cortex; Parietal cortex; Spatial
Sub-regions of prefrontal cortex are important for estimating reward values and using these values to guide behavior. The present studies directly tested whether orbital (O-PFC) and lateral (L-PFC) prefrontal cortex are necessary for evaluating trial-to-trial changes in the reward values predicted by visual cues. We have compared intact rhesus monkeys, those with bilateral O-PFC lesions (n=3), and those with bilateral L-PFC lesions (n=3). We used three versions of a visually-cued color-discrimination task: we varied reward size, delay-to-reward, or both. O-PFC lesions altered estimations of predicted reward value in all versions of the task. L-PFC lesions disrupted performance only when both reward size and delay-to-reward were varied together. Neither lesion directly affected basic internal drive states (satiation curves). Our results suggest that O-PFC is essential for establishing independent, context-specific scales with which predicted reward values are measured. L-PFC appears necessary for integration of predicted reward value across these different scales.
Motivation; Emotion; Macaque; Reinforcement; Decision
It is now well established that cannabinoid agonists such as D9–tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), anandamide, and WIN 55,212-2 (WIN-2) produce potent and specific deficits in working memory (WM)/short-term memory (STM) tasks in rodents. Although mediated through activation of CB1 receptors located in memory-related brain regions such as the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, these may, in part, be due to a reduction in acetylcholine release (i.e., cholinergic hypofunction). To determine the interaction between cannabinoid and cholinergic systems, we exposed rats treated with WIN-2 or cholinergic drugs to a hippocampal-dependent delayed nonmatch to sample (DNMS) task to study STM, and recorded hippocampal single-unit activity in vivo. WIN-2 induced significant deficits in DNMS performance and reduced the average firing and bursting rates of hippocampal principal cells through a CB1 receptor-mediated mechanism. Rivastigmine, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, reversed these STM deficits and normalized hippocampal discharge rates. Effects were specific to 1 mg/kg WIN-2 as rivastigmine failed to reverse the behavioral and physiological deficits that were observed in the presence of MK-801, an NMDA receptor antagonist. This supports the notion that cannabinoid-modulated cholinergic activity is a mechanism underlying the performance deficits in DNMS. Whether deficits are due to reduced nicotinic or muscarinic receptor activation, or both, awaits further analysis.
Theories of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) involvement in cognitive function variously emphasize its involvement in rule implementation, cognitive control, or working and/or spatial memory. These theories predict broad effects of DLPFC lesions on tests of visual learning and memory. We evaluated the effects of DLPFC lesions (including both banks of the principal sulcus) in rhesus monkeys on tests of scene learning and strategy implementation that are severely impaired following crossed unilateral lesions of frontal cortex and inferotemporal cortex. Dorsolateral lesions had no effect on learning of new scene problems postoperatively, or on the implementation of preoperatively acquired strategies. They were also without effect on the ability to adjust choice behavior in response to a change in reinforcer value, a capacity that requires interaction between the amygdala and frontal lobe. These intact abilities following DLPFC damage support specialization of function within the prefrontal cortex, and suggest that many aspects of memory and strategic and goal-directed behavior can survive ablation of this structure.
episodic; frontal cortex; macaque; memory; strategy
Theories of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) involvement in cognitive function variously emphasize its involvement in rule implementation, cognitive control, or working and/or spatial memory. These theories predict broad effects of DLPFC lesions on tests of visual learning and memory. We evaluated the effects of DLPFC lesions (including both banks of the principal sulcus) in rhesus monkeys on tests of scene learning and strategy implementation that are severely impaired following crossed unilateral lesions of frontal cortex and inferotemporal cortex. Dorsolateral lesions had no effect on learning of new scene problems postoperatively, or on the implementation of preoperatively acquired strategies. They were also without effect on the ability to adjust choice behaviour in response to a change in reinforcer value, a capacity that requires interaction between the amygdala and frontal lobe. These intact abilities following DLPFC damage support specialization of function within the prefrontal cortex, and suggest that many aspects of memory and strategic and goal-directed behaviour can survive ablation of this structure.
episodic; frontal cortex; macaque; memory; strategy