Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Reward-period activity observed in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is thought to represent the detection of reward delivery. To investigate whether this activity plays the same role in these areas, we examined this activity under different reward schedules and whether the reward schedule has similar effects on this activity in each of these areas. A monkey performed an oculomotor delayed-response (ODR) task under two reward schedules. In the ODR-1 schedule, the monkey received a large amount of reward only after four successful trials, whereas in the ODR-2 schedule, it received a small amount of reward after every successful trial. Although reward-period activity was observed in both areas, more neurons exhibited this activity in the OFC. Reward-period activity was modulated by the proximity to reward delivery in both areas and this feature was observed more frequently in the OFC. The onset time of this activity also gradually advanced depending on the proximity to reward delivery. Moreover, many OFC neurons with this activity responded to free reward delivery. These results indicate that reward-period activity in the OFC represents the detection of reward delivery and that the gradual change in the magnitude and the onset time of this activity represents the expectation of reward delivery. Similar features of reward-period activity were observed in DLPFC neurons, although a significant number of DLPFC neurons did not respond to free reward delivery and no advance was observed in the onset time of this activity. These results suggest that reward-period activity in the DLPFC participates in whether or not correct performance was achieved. Thus, although similar reward-period activity was observed in both areas, the activity in the OFC represents the detection of reward delivery and is affected by the monkey's motivational state, whereas that in the DLPFC seems to participate in monitoring whether or not the necessary performance is achieved.