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|Paper IPM / Cognitive / 15491||
As a central hub for cognitive control, prefrontal cortex (PFC) is thought to utilize memories. However, unlike working or short-term memory, the neuronal representation of long-term memory in PFC has not been systematically investigated. Using single-unit recordings in macaques, we show that PFC neurons rapidly update and maintain responses to objects based on short-term reward history. Interestingly, after repeated object-reward association, PFC neurons continue to show value-biased responses to objects even in the absence of reward. This value-biased response is retained for several months after training and is resistant to extinction and to interference from new object-reward learning for many complex objects (>90). Accordingly, the monkeys remember the values of the learned objects for several months in separate testing. These findings reveal that in addition to flexible short-term and low-capacity memories, primate PFC represents stable long-term and high-capacity memories, which could prioritize valuable objects far into the future.
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