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Prelimbic cortex maintains attention to category-relevant information and flexibly updates category representations

Broschard, MB; Kim, J; Love, BC; Wasserman, EA; Freeman, JH; (2021) Prelimbic cortex maintains attention to category-relevant information and flexibly updates category representations. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory , 185 , Article 107524. 10.1016/j.nlm.2021.107524.

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Abstract

Category learning groups stimuli according to similarity or function. This involves finding and attending to stimulus features that reliably inform category membership. Although many of the neural mechanisms underlying categorization remain elusive, models of human category learning posit that prefrontal cortex plays a substantial role. Here, we investigated the role of the prelimbic cortex (PL) in rat visual category learning by administering excitotoxic lesions before category training and then evaluating the effects of the lesions with computational modeling. Using a touchscreen apparatus, rats (female and male) learned to categorize distributions of category stimuli that varied along two continuous dimensions. For some rats, categorizing the stimuli encouraged selective attention towards a single stimulus dimension (i.e., 1D tasks). For other rats, categorizing the stimuli required divided attention towards both stimulus dimensions (i.e., 2D tasks). Testing sessions then examined generalization to novel exemplars. PL lesions impaired learning and generalization for the 1D tasks, but not the 2D tasks. Then, a neural network was fit to the behavioral data to examine how the lesions affected categorization. The results suggest that the PL facilitates category learning by maintaining attention to category-relevant information and updating category representations.

Type: Article
Title: Prelimbic cortex maintains attention to category-relevant information and flexibly updates category representations
Location: United States
DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2021.107524
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nlm.2021.107524
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Category learning, Executive functions, Prelimbic prefrontal cortex, Rat, SUSTAIN, Touchscreen
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135522
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