Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d'Aquitaine (UMR5287)

Aquitaine Institute for Cognitive and Integrative Neuroscience

Université de Bordeaux

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CNRS Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Université de Bordeaux

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Cortical control of adaptive behaviour

by Wolff - published on

Cortical control of adaptive behaviour

Goal-directed behaviour facilitates decision-making by allowing organisms to flexibly adapt their actions according to changes in the consequences of those actions. Here, the DECAD team uncovered how specific regions of the cerebral cortex modulate this complex behaviour in rats.
We used DREADDs (Designer Receptor Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs) to express an inhibitory receptor in either ventrolateral orbitofrontal cortex (vlOFC; Figure A) or insular cortex (IC; Figure D). Rats were then trained on the instrumental outcome devaluation task, which is commonly used to study goal-directed behaviour in both rodents and humans.
Critically, we showed distinct yet complementary roles for vlOFC and IC in adaptive choice. We uncovered a novel role for vlOFC in action flexibility; vlOFC is required for goal-directed action only following a shift in the action-outcome relationship, for example, reversal learning (Figures B, C). By contrast, the IC plays a more general role in the retrieval of outcome value to guide choice (Figure E). These findings not only increase our understanding of the cortical bases of goal-directed action but also reinforce and advance current theories of decision-making.

Insular and Ventrolateral Orbitofrontal Cortices Differentially Contribute to Goal-Directed Behavior in Rodents.
Parkes SL, Ravassard PM, Cerpa JC, Wolff M, Ferreira G, Coutureau E
Cerebral Cortex, 2017 May 25. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhx132

A. Expression of the DREADD inhibitory receptor (in red) in the ventrolateral orbitofrontal cortex. B. Inhibition of vlOFC during action acquisition or during the choice test did not impair goal-directed behaviour and rats biased their choice towards the action associated with the still valued outcome (white bar). C. However, following a reversal of the action-outcome relationships (image in blue), rats were unable to perform in a goal-directed manner and selected both actions equally. D. Expression of the DREADD inhibitory receptor (in red) in the insular cortex. E. Inhibition of IC during the acquisition phase caused no impairment at the choice test. Indeed, rats were able to correctly bias their action selection towards the action associated with the still valued outcome (white bar). By contrast, inhibition of IC during the choice test caused impaired goal-directed behaviour such that rats selected the devalued (black bar) and valued (white bar) actions equally. F. We observed a marked decrease in firing rate of neurons expressing the inhibitory receptor when CNO is applied in vitro (in collaboration with the PhyCell platform).