The somatic marker hypothesis provides a systems-level neuroanatomical and cognitive framework for decision making and the influence on it by emotion. The key idea of this hypothesis is that decision making is a process that is influenced by marker signals that arise in bioregulatory processes, including those that express themselves in emotions and feelings. This influence can occur at multiple levels of operation, some of which occur consciously and some of which occur non-consciously. Here we review studies that confirm various predictions from the hypothesis. The orbitofrontal cortex represents one critical structure in a neural system subserving decision making. Decision making is not mediated by the orbitofrontal cortex alone, hut arises from large-scale systems that include other cortical and subcortical components. Such structures include the amygdala, the somatosensory/insular cortices and the peripheral nervous system. Here we focus only on the role of the orbitofrontal cortex in decision making and emotional processing, and the relationship between emotion, decision making and other cognitive functions of the frontal lobe. namely working memory.
This paper reviews architectonic subdivisions and connections of the orbital and medial prefrontal cortex (OMPFC) in rats, monkeys and humans. Cortico-cortical connections provide the basis for recognition of 'medial' and 'orbital' networks within the OMPFC. These networks also have distinct connections with structures in other parts of the brain. The orbital network receives sensory inputs from several modalities, including olfaction, taste, visceral afferents, somatic sensation and vision, which appear to be especially related to food or eating. In contrast, the medial network provides the major cortical output to visceromotor structures in the hypothalamus and brainstem. The two networks have distinct connections with areas of the striatum and mediodorsal thalamus. In particular, projections to the nucleus accumbens and the adjacent ventromedial caudate and putamen arise predominantly from the medial network. Both networks also have extensive connections with limbic structures. Based on these and other observations, the OMPFC appears to function as a sensory-visceromotor link, especially for eating. This linkage appears to he critical for the guidance of reward-related behavior and for setting of mood. Imaging and histological observations on human brains indicate that clinical depressive disorders are associated with specific functional and cellular changes in the OMPFC, including activity and volume changes, and specific changes in the number of glial cells.
The primate orbitofrontal cortex contains the secondary taste cortex, in which the reward value of taste is represented. It also contains the secondary and tertiary olfactory cortical areas, in which information about the identity and also about the reward value of odors is represented. The orbitofrontal cortex also receives information about the sight of objects and faces from the temporal lobe cortical visual areas, and neurons in it learn and reverse the visual stimulus to which they respond when the association of the visual stimulus with a primary reinforcing stimulus (such as a taste reward) is reversed. However, the orbitofrontal cortex is involved in representing negative reinforcers (punishers) too, such as aversive taste, and in rapid stimulus-reinforcement association learning for both positive and negative primary reinforcers. In complementary neuroimaging studies in humans it is being found that areas of the orbitofrontal cortex (land connected subgenual cingulate cortex) are activated by pleasant touch, by painful touch, by rewarding and aversive taste, and by odor. Damage to the orbitofrontal cortex in humans can impair the learning and reversal of stimulus-reinforcement associations, and thus the correction of behavioral responses when these are no longer appropriate because previous reinforcement contingencies change. This evidence thus shows that the orbitofrontal cortex is involved in decoding and representing some primary reinforcers such as taste and touch: in learning and reversing associations of visual and other stimuli to these primary reinforcers: and in controlling and correcting reward-related and punishment-related behavior, and thus in emotion.
Functional organization of the lateral temporal cortex in humans is not well understood. We recorded blood oxygenation signals from the temporal lobes of normal volunteers using functional magnetic resonance imaging during stimulation with unstructured noise, frequency-modulated (FM) tones, reversed speech, pseudowords and words. For all conditions, subjects performed a material-nonspecific detection response when a train of stimuli began or ceased. Dorsal areas surrounding Heschl's gyrus bilaterally, particularly the planum temporale and dorsolateral superior temporal gyrus, were more strongly activated by FM tones than by noise, suggesting a role in processing simple temporally encoded auditory information. Distinct from these dorsolateral areas, regions centered in the superior temporal sulcus bilaterally were more activated by speech stimuli than by FM tones. Identical results were obtained in this region using words, pseudowords and reversed speech, suggesting that the speech-tones activation difference is due to acoustic rather than linguistic factors. In contrast, previous comparisons between word and nonword speech sounds showed left lateralized activation differences in more ventral temporal and temporoparietal regions that are likely involved in processing lexical-semantic or syntactic information associated with words. The results indicate functional subdivision of the human lateral temporal cortex and provide a preliminary framework for understanding the cortical processing of speech sounds.
Evidence implicates subtle neuronal pathology of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in schizophrenia, but how this pathology is reflected in physiological neuroimaging experiments remains controversial. We investigated PFC function in schizophrenia using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a parametric version of the n-back working memory (WM) task. In a group of patients who performed relatively well on this task, there were three fundamental deviations from the 'healthy' pattern of PFC fMRI activation to varying WM difficulty. The first characteristic was a greater magnitude of PFC fMRI activation in the context of slightly impaired WM performance (i.e. physiological inefficiency). The second was that the significant correlations between behavioral WM performance and dorsal PFC fMRI activation were in opposite directions in the two groups. Third, the magnitude of the abnormal dorsal PFC fMRI response was predicted by an assay of N-acetylaspartate concentrations (NAA) in dorsal PFC, a measure of neuronal pathology obtained using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Patients had significantly lower dorsal PFC NAA than controls and dorsal PFC NAA inversely predicted the fMRI response in dorsal PFC (areas 9, 46) to varying WM difficulty - supporting the assumption that abnormal PFC responses arose from abnormal PFC neurons. These data suggest that under certain conditions the physiological ramifications of dorsal PFC neuronal pathology in schizophrenia includes exaggerated and inefficient cortical activity, especially of dorsal PFC.
Understanding the changes in the brain which occur in the transition from normal to addictive behavior has major implications in public health. Here we postulate that while reward circuits (nucleus accumbens, amygdala), which have been central to theories of drug addiction, may be crucial to initiate drug self-administration, the addictive state also involves disruption of circuits involved with compulsive behaviors and with drive. We postulate that intermittent dopaminergic activation of reward circuits secondary to drug self-administration leads to dysfunction of the orbitofrontal cortex via the striato-thalamo-orbitofrontal circuit. This is supported by imaging studies showing that in drug abusers studied during protracted withdrawal, the orbitofrontal cortex is hypoactive in proportion to the levels of dopamine D2 receptors in the striatum. In contrast, when drug abusers are tested shortly after last cocaine use or during drug-induced craving, the orbitofrontal cortex is hypermetabolic in proportion to the intensity of the craving. Because the orbitofrontal cortex is involved with drive and with compulsive repetitive behaviors, its abnormal activation in the addicted subject could explain why compulsive drug self-administration occurs even with tolerance to the pleasurable drug effects and in the presence of adverse reactions. This model implies that pleasure per se is not enough to maintain compulsive drug administration in the drug-addicted subject and that drugs that could interfere with the activation of the striato-thalamo-orbitofrontal circuit could be beneficial in the treatment of drug addiction.
Single-neuron recordings from behaving primates have established a link between working memory processes and information-specific neuronal persistent activity in the prefrontal cortex. Using a network model endowed with a columnar architecture and based on the physiological properties of cortical neurons and synapses, we have examined the synaptic mechanisms of selective persistent activity underlying spatial working memory in the prefrontal cortex. Our model reproduces the phenomenology of the oculomotor delayed-response experiment of Funahashi et al. (S. Funahashi, C.J. Bruce and P.S. Goldman-Rakic, Mnemonic coding of visual space in the monkey's dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. J Neurophysiol 61:331-349, 1989). To observe stable spontaneous and persistent activity, we find that recurrent synaptic excitation should be primarily mediated by NMDA receptors, and that overall recurrent synaptic interactions should be dominated by inhibition. Isodirectional tuning of adjacent pyramidal cells and interneurons can be accounted for by a structured pyramid-to-interneuron connectivity. Robust memory storage against random drift of the tuned persistent activity and against distracters (intervening stimuli during the delay period) may be enhanced by neuromodulation of recurrent synapses. Experimentally testable predictions concerning the neural basis of working memory are discussed.
This article reviews and interprets neuronal activities related to the expectation and delivery of reward in the primate orbitofrontal cortex, in comparison with slowly discharging neurons in the striatum (caudate, putamen and ventral striatum, including nucleus accumbens) and midbrain dopamine neurons. Orbitofrontal neurons showed three principal forms of reward-related activity during the performance of delayed response tasks, namely responses to reward-predicting instructions, activations during the expectation period immediately preceding reward and responses following reward. These activations discriminated between different rewards, often on the basis of the animals' preferences. Neurons in the striatum were also activated in relation to the expectation and detection of reward but in addition showed activities related to the preparation, initiation and execution of movements which reflected the expected reward. Dopamine neurons responded to rewards and reward-predicting stimuli, and coded an error in the prediction of reward. Thus, the investigated cortical and basal ganglia structures showed multiple, heterogeneous, partly simultaneous activations which were related to specific aspects of rewards. These activations may represent the neuronal substrates of rewards during learning and established behavioral performance. The processing of reward expectations suggests an access to central representations of rewards which may be used for the neuronal control of goal-directed behavior.
The orbitofrontal cortex (OfC) is a heterogeneous prefrontal sector selectively connected with a wide constellation of other prefrontal. limbic, sensory and promotor areas. Among the limbic cortical connections, the ones with the hippocampus and parahippocampal cortex are particularly salient. Sensory cortices connected with the OfC include areas involved in olfactory, gustatory, somatosensory, auditory and visual processing. Subcortical structures with prominent OfC connections include the amygdala. numerous thalamic nuclei. the striatum, hypothalamus. periaqueductal gray matter, and biochemically specific cell groups in the basal forebrain and brainstem. Architectonic and connectional evidence supports parcellation of the OfC. The rostrally placed isocortical sector is mainly connected with isocortical areas, including sensory areas of the auditory, somatic and visual modalities, whereas the caudal non-isocortical sector is principally connected with non-isocortical areas, and, in the sensory domain, with olfactory and gustatory areas. The connections of the isocortical and non-isocortical orbital sectors with the amygdala, thalamus, striatum, hypothalamus and periaqueductal gray matter are also specific. The medial sector of the OfC is selectively connected with the hippocampus. posterior parahippocampal cortex, posterior cingulate and retrosplenial areas, and area prostriata, while the lateral orbitofrontal sector is the most heavily connected with sensory areas of the gustatory, somatic and visual modalities, with premotor regions, and with the amygdala.
Dendritic abnormalities are the most consistent anatomical correlates of mental retardation (MR). Earliest descriptions included dendritic spine dysgenesis. which was first associated with unclassified MR, but can also be found in genetic syndromes associated with MR. Genetic disorders with well-defined dendritic anomalies involving branches and/or spines include Down. Rett and fragile-X syndromes. Cytoarchitectonic analyses also suggest dendritic pathology in Williams and Rubinstein-Taybi syndromes. Dendritic abnormalities appear to have syndrome-specific pathogenesis and evolution, which correlate to some extent with their cognitive profile. The significance of dendritic pathology in synaptic circuitry and the role of animal models in the study of MR-associated dendritic abnormalities are also discussed. Finally, a model of genotype to neurologic phenotype pathway in MR, centered in dendritic abnormalities, is postulated.