Modulation of feedback related activity in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex during trial and error exploration.
Amiez C., Sallet J., Procyk E., Petrides M.
The present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment aims at clarifying the role of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) in the evaluation of feedback in a deterministic environment. We tested, in particular, the response of the rACC to the detection of different types of feedback, and to varying levels of outcome expectancy. We used a problem-solving task in which subjects had to discover, in successive trials, which one of the four presented stimuli was associated with a positive feedback, the other ones being associated with error feedback. In this task, two periods alternated: 1. an exploratory period in which error feedback indicated to adapt the following response appropriately (and continue to explore), and first positive feedback indicated to change strategy (i.e. to shift from explorative to exploitative behavior), and 2. an exploitative period in which subjects had to repeat the correct choice. The rACC is recruited in the exploratory period during the analysis of both error and first correct positive feedback. In addition, the rACC activity was modulated by positive reward prediction error values (i.e. the difference between obtained and expected feedback). Altogether, these results reveal the critical role of the rACC in the evaluation of salient feedback for learning optimal strategies.