Cortical neural responses to previous trial outcome during learning of a directional choice task

Yuan Yuan, Hongwei Mao, Jennie Si

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The outcomes that result from previous behavior affect future choices in several ways, but the neural mechanisms underlying these effects remain to be determined. Previous studies have shown that the lateral (AGl) and medial (AGm) agranular areas of the rat frontal cortex are involved in the learning and selection of action. Here we describe the activity of single neurons in AGl and AGm as rats learned to perform a directional choice task. Our analysis shows that single-cell activity in AGl and AGm was modulated by the outcome of the previous trial. A larger proportion of neurons encoded the previous trial’s outcome shortly after cue onset than during other time periods of a trial. Most of these neurons had greater activity after correct trials than after error trials, a difference that increased as behavioral performance improved. The number of neurons encoding the previous trial’s outcome correlated positively with performance accuracy. In summary, we found that neurons in both AGl and AGm encode the outcome of the immediately preceding trial, information that might play a role in the successful selection of action based on past experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1963-1976
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2015


  • Firing rates
  • Learning
  • Previous trial outcome
  • Primary motor and nonprimary motor areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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