Goal encoding and monitoring in Monkey Prefrontal cortex - Aldo Genovesio

Tuesday, 10 September, 2013 - 09:30 to 11:00
A rich body of studies has shown that the prefrontal cortex has a fundamental role in the generation of goal directed behavior. I will present recent evidence on the role of the
Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex in encoding goals prospectively and in maintain them in memory for future use once they are accomplished. I will discuss previous results that 
showed that goal encoding is performed by different prefrontal networks depending on whether the goal is pending or it has already accomplished. It is likely that this separation is important for facilitating the planning of future behaviors by evaluating which goals remain to be pursued (output monitoring). Output monitoring failures can generate omission and perseveration errors typical of prefrontal damage. Based on our recent studies in monkeys I will also discuss a potential role of the Frontal Pole Cortex (area 10) in goal transfer from the future to the previous goal network by means of its anatomical connections with the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex. I will examine also its monitoring role when this area in the context of a distance discrimination task. In this task no goal monitoring was required and we could study the monitoring of previous information, contrasting the representation of the history of previous accomplished goals with that of previous non goal events, finding that the monitoring function applied specifically only to past goal choices. Monitoring past goal choices, even when irrelevant, can undoubtedly offer an evolutionary advantage for adapting to fast changing environment and for exploring and discovering new and more effective solutions to the problems faced by primates.