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Although there are numerous theories regarding anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) function, most suggest that it is involved in some form of action or outcome processing. The present study characterized the dominant patterns of ACC activity on a task in which actions and outcomes could vary independently. Patterns of activity were detected using a modified form of principal component analysis (PCA), termed constrained PCA in which a regression procedure was applied prior to PCA to eliminate the contribution of nontask-related activity. When trials were grouped according to outcome, a PC was found in all subjects and sessions that had large fluctuations during actions but only differentiated correct versus error trials prior to the end of the delay and again at time of the outcome. Another PC was always present that separated right from left lever presses, but only around the time of the actual lever press. Individual neurons exhibited significant selectivities for trials involving different actions and/or outcomes. Of the ACC neurons that exhibited significant outcome selectivity, the majority fired more on error trials. The present study revealed separate as well as integrated action and outcome monitoring in the ACC, especially, although not exclusively, under conditions when an error is likely.


James M Hyman, Jennifer Whitman, Eldon Emberly, Todd S Woodward, Jeremy K Seamans. Action and outcome activity state patterns in the anterior cingulate cortex. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991). 2013 Jun;23(6):1257-68

PMID: 22617853

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