Columbia University in the City of New York

Sep 19, 202310:30 am

Columbia Neuroscience Seminar - Bruno Averbeck

Neural dynamics underlying decision making in prefrontal cortex

September 19th, 10:30 am – 11:30 am at the Jerome L. Greene Science Center (9th floor lecture hall)

This event will be in-person only for Columbia University Affiliates and will not offer a Zoom option


Bruno Averbeck, PhD

Laboratory of Neuropsychology



Neural dynamics underlying decision making in prefrontal cortex


In this talk I will discuss recent work from our group, in which we are using analysis of neural dynamics to generate insight into the neural computations underlying decision making in the monkey. I will focus on two experiments, both of which are based on high-channel count (768 channels) recordings in prefrontal cortex. In the first experiment, I will discuss neural correlates of reversal learning in prefrontal cortex. In the reversal learning task, monkeys were trained to learn which of two novel choice options was more frequently rewarded. After this acquisition period, the choice-reward outcome relationship was switched, such that the less rewarded option became more rewarded, and vice-versa. The monkeys were highly trained, and therefore they came to expect the reversal. We found that they switched preferences when they detected the reversal, rather than using a slower reinforcement learning value updating process. When they switched their preference, we found a distinct signal in prefrontal cortex population activity that reflected inference of the reversal. In the second experiment, we examined decision making in a temporal-discounting task in which monkeys had to accept or reject offers of rewards of different sizes, at different delays. We examined the neural dynamics underlying the choice process, using a two-well attractor model fit to neural activity. We found that the attractor model accounted for the choice process better than an integrator model, and that the depth of the attractor basin reflected the consistency of the choice. Overall, these experiments show the advantages of using high-channel count recordings to understand the neural dynamics underlying choice processes.


Relevant Publications:

Prefontal cortex predicts state switches during reversal learning

Dimensionality,information and learning in prefrontal cortex

Host(s): Jacqueline Gottlieb (Faculty) and Yuhao (Leo) Jin (Graduate Student).

Please contact [email protected] with any questions.


The Columbia Neuroscience Seminar series is a collaborative effort of Columbia's Zuckerman Institute, the Department of Neuroscience, the Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior and the Columbia Translational Neuroscience Initiative, and with support from the Kavli Institute for Brain Science.

Venue: the Jerome L. Greene Science Center (9th floor lecture hall)
3227 Broadway,New York, NY, 10027

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