The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is proposed to facilitate learning by signaling mismatches between the expected outcome of decisions and the actual outcomes in the form of prediction errors. The dACC is also proposed to discriminate outcome valence-whether a result has positive (either expected or desirable) or negative (either unexpected or undesirable) value. However, direct electrophysiological recordings from human dACC to validate these separate, but integrated, dimensions have not been previously performed. We hypothesized that local field potentials (LFPs) would reveal changes in the dACC related to prediction error and valence and used the unique opportunity offered by deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery in the dACC of three human subjects to test this hypothesis. We used a cognitive task that involved the presentation of object pairs, a motor response, and audiovisual feedback to guide future object selection choices. The dACC displayed distinctly lateralized theta frequency (3-8 Hz) event-related potential responses-the left hemisphere dACC signaled outcome valence and prediction errors while the right hemisphere dACC was involved in prediction formation. Multivariate analyses provided evidence that the human dACC response to decision outcomes reflects two spatiotemporally distinct early and late systems that are consistent with both our lateralized electrophysiological results and the involvement of the theta frequency oscillatory activity in dACC cognitive processing. Further findings suggested that dACC does not respond to other phases of action-outcome-feedback tasks such as the motor response which supports the notion that dACC primarily signals information that is crucial for behavioral monitoring and not for motor control.
Front Hum Neurosci
event related potentials (ERP), executive function, functional localization, intra- extradimensional set shift task, lateralization, outcome valence, prefrontal cortex (PFC), theta oscillations