Rodent medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortices represent unique components of cognitive maps of task space.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 2020, 108, pp. 287-294
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The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been proposed to function as a cognitive map of task space: a mental model of the steps involved in a task. This idea has proven popular because it provides a cohesive explanation for a number of disparate findings regarding the OFC's role in a broad array of tasks. Concurrently, evidence has begun to reveal the functional heterogeneity of OFC subregions, particularly the medial and lateral OFC. How these subregions uniquely contribute to the OFC's role as a cognitive map of task space, however, has not been explored. Here we propose that, in rodents, the lateral OFC represents the agent's initial position within that task map (i.e. initial state), determining which actions are available as a consequence of that position, whereas the medial OFC represents the agent's future position within the task map (i.e. terminal state), influencing which actions are selected to achieve that position. We argue that these processes are achieved somewhat independently and somewhat interdependently, and are achieved through similar but non-identical circuitry.
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