Frontal and temporal coding dynamics in successive steps of complex behavior.


Ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), and temporal cortex (TE) all contribute to visual decision-making. Accumulating evidence suggests that vlPFC may play a central role in multiple cognitive operations, perhaps resembling domain-general regions of the human frontal lobe. We trained monkeys in a task calling for learning, retrieval, and spatial selection of rewarded target objects. Recordings of neural activity covered large areas of vlPFC, dlPFC, and TE. Results suggested a central role for vlPFC in each cognitive operation with strong coding of each task feature, while only location was strongly coded in dlPFC and current object identity in TE. During target selection, target location was communicated first from vlPFC to dlPFC, followed by extensive mutual support. In vlPFC, stimulus identities were independently coded in different task operations. The results suggest a central role for the inferior frontal convexity in controlling successive operations of a complex, multi-step task.