Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The pFC plays a key role in flexible, context-specific decision making. One proposal [Machens, C. K., Romo, R., & Brody, C. D. Flexible control of mutual inhibition: A neural model of two-interval discrimination. Science, 307, 1121-1124, 2005] is that prefrontal cells may be dynamically organized into opponent coding circuits, with competitive groups of cells coding opposite behavioral decisions. Here, we show evidence for extensive, temporally evolving opponent organization in the monkey pFC during a cued target detection task. More than a half of all randomly selected cells discriminated stimulus category in this task. The largest set showed target-positive activity, with the strongest responses to the current target, intermediate activity for a nontarget that was a target on other trials, and lowest activity for nontargets never associated with the target category. Second most frequent was a reverse, antitarget pattern. In the ventrolateral frontal cortex, opponent organization was strongly established in phasic responses at stimulus onset; later, such activity was widely spread across dorsolateral and ventrolateral sites. Task-specific organization into opponent cell groups may be a general feature of prefrontal decision making.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cogn Neurosci

Publication Date





751 - 760


Action Potentials, Analysis of Variance, Animals, Brain Mapping, Color Perception, Cues, Discrimination Learning, Functional Laterality, Macaca mulatta, Male, Neurons, Photic Stimulation, Prefrontal Cortex, Reaction Time, Signal Detection, Psychological