When an individual chooses one item from two or more alternatives, they compare the values of the expected outcomes. The outcome value can be determined by the associated reward amount, the probability of reward, and the workload required to earn the reward. Rational choice theory states that choices are made to maximize rewards over time, and that the same outcome values lead to an equal likelihood of choices. However, the theory does not distinguish between conditions with the same reward value, even when acquired under different circumstances, and does not always accurately describe real behavior. We have found that allowing a monkey to choose a reward schedule endows the schedule with extra value when compared to performance in an identical schedule that is chosen by another agent (a computer here). This behavior is not consistent with pure rational choice theory. Theoretical analysis using a modified temporal-difference learning model showed an enhanced schedule state value by self-choice. These results suggest that an increased reward value underlies the improved performances by self-choice during reward-seeking behavior.
The dorsal raphe nucleus is the major source of serotonin in the brain. It is connected to brain regions related to reward processing, and the neurons show activity related to predicted reward outcome. Clinical observations also suggest that it is important in maintaining alertness and its apparent role in addiction seems to be related to reward processing. Here, we examined whether the neurons in dorsal raphe carry signals about reward outcome and task progress during multitrial schedules. We recorded from 98 single neurons in dorsal raphe of two monkeys. The monkeys perform one, two, or three visual discrimination trials (schedule), obtaining one, two, or three drops of liquid. In the valid cue condition, the length and brightness of a visual cue indicated schedule progress and reward amount, respectively. In the random cue condition, the visual cue was randomly presented with respect to schedule length and reward amount. We found information encoded about (1) schedule onset, (2) reward expectation, (3) reward outcome, and (4) reward amount in the mean firing rates. Information theoretic analysis showed that the temporal variation of the neuronal responses contained additional information related to the progress of the schedule toward the reward rather than only discriminating schedule onset or reward/no reward. When considered in light of all that is known about the raphe in anatomy, physiology, and behavior, the rich encoding about both task progress and predicted reward outcome makes the raphe a strong candidate for providing signals throughout the brain to coordinate persistent goal-seeking behavior.
The duration of the extracellular action potential (EAP) in single neuronal recording has often been used as a clue to infer biochemical, physiological or functional substrate of the recorded neurons, e.g. neurochemical type. However, when recording a neuronal activity, the high-pass filter is routinely used to achieve higher signal-to-noise ratio. Signal processing theory predicts that passband limitation stretches the waveform of discrete brief impulse. To examine whether the duration of filtered EAP could be the reliable measure, we investigated the influence of high-pass filter both by simulation and unfiltered unit recording data from monkey dorsal raphe. Consistent with the findings in recent theoretical study, the unfiltered EAPs displayed the sharp wave without following bumps. The duration of unfiltered EAP was not correlated with that of filtered EAP. Thus the duration of original EAP cannot be estimated from filtered EAP. It is needed to reexamine the EAP duration measured for classifying the neurons whose activities were recorded under the passband limitation in the related studies.
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