Interactions between dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex underlie context-dependent stimulus valuation in goal-directed choice.

Rudorf, Sarah; Hare, Todd A (2014). Interactions between dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex underlie context-dependent stimulus valuation in goal-directed choice. Journal of neuroscience, 34(48), pp. 15988-15996. Society for Neuroscience 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3192-14.2014

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External circumstances and internal bodily states often change and require organisms to flexibly adapt valuation processes to select the optimal action in a given context. Here, we investigate the neurobiology of context-dependent valuation in 22 human subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Subjects made binary choices between visual stimuli with three attributes (shape, color, and pattern) that were associated with monetary values. Context changes required subjects to deviate from the default shape valuation and to integrate a second attribute in order to comply with the goal to maximize rewards. Critically, this binary choice task did not involve any conflict between opposing monetary, temporal, or social preferences. We tested the hypothesis that interactions between regions of dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (dlPFC; vmPFC) implicated in self-control choices would also underlie the more general function of context-dependent valuation. Consistent with this idea, we found that the degree to which stimulus attributes were reflected in vmPFC activity varied as a function of context. In addition, activity in dlPFC increased when context changes required a reweighting of stimulus attribute values. Moreover, the strength of the functional connectivity between dlPFC and vmPFC was associated with the degree of context-specific attribute valuation in vmPFC at the time of choice. Our findings suggest that functional interactions between dlPFC and vmPFC are a key aspect of context-dependent valuation and that the role of this network during choices that require self-control to adjudicate between competing outcome preferences is a specific application of this more general neural mechanism.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Social Neuroscience and Social Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Rudorf, Sarah Patricia


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Society for Neuroscience




Sarah Patricia Rudorf

Date Deposited:

03 Mar 2015 15:26

Last Modified:

28 Dec 2018 10:27

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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