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Medial Prefrontal Cortex: Adding Value to Imagined Scenarios

Lin, WJ; Horner, AJ; Bisby, JA; Burgess, N; (2015) Medial Prefrontal Cortex: Adding Value to Imagined Scenarios. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience , 27 (10) pp. 1957-1967. 10.1162/jocn_a_00836. Green open access

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Abstract

The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is consistently implicated in the network supporting autobiographical memory. Whereas more posterior regions in this network have been related to specific processes, such as the generation of visuospatial imagery or the association of items and contexts, the functional contribution of the mPFC remains unclear. However, the involvement of mPFC in estimation of value during decision-making suggests that it might play a similar role in memory. We investigated whether mPFC activity reflects the subjective value of elements in imagined scenarios. Participants in an MRI scanner imagined scenarios comprising a spatial context, a physiological state of need (e.g., thirst), and two items that could be congruent (e.g., drink) or incongruent (e.g., food) with the state of need. Memory for the scenarios was tested outside the scanner. Our manipulation of subjective value by imagined need was verified by increased subjective ratings of value for congruent items and improved subsequent memory for them. Consistent with our hypothesis, fMRI signal in mPFC reflected the modulation of an item's subjective value by the imagined physiological state, suggesting the mPFC selectively tracked subjective value within our imagination paradigm. Further analyses showed uncorrected effects in non-mPFC regions, including increased activity in the insula when imagining states of need, the caudate nucleus when imagining congruent items, and the anterior hippocampus/amygdala when imagining subsequently remembered items. We therefore provide evidence that the mPFC plays a role in constructing the subjective value of the components of imagined scenarios and thus potentially in reconstructing the value of components of autobiographical recollection.

Type: Article
Title: Medial Prefrontal Cortex: Adding Value to Imagined Scenarios
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_00836
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_00836
Language: English
Additional information: © 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license
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 > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1468770
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