The role of mPFC and MTL neurons in human choice under goal-conflict

Tomer Gazit, Tal Gonen, Guy Gurevitch, Noa Cohen, Ido Strauss, Yoav Zeevi, Hagar Yamin, Firas Fahoum, Talma Hendler*, Itzhak Fried

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resolving approach-avoidance conflicts relies on encoding motivation outcomes and learning from past experiences. Accumulating evidence points to the role of the Medial Temporal Lobe (MTL) and Medial Prefrontal Cortex (mPFC) in these processes, but their differential contributions have not been convincingly deciphered in humans. We detect 310 neurons from mPFC and MTL from patients with epilepsy undergoing intracranial recordings and participating in a goal-conflict task where rewards and punishments could be controlled or not. mPFC neurons are more selective to punishments than rewards when controlled. However, only MTL firing following punishment is linked to a lower probability for subsequent approach behavior. mPFC response to punishment precedes a similar MTL response and affects subsequent behavior via an interaction with MTL firing. We thus propose a model where approach-avoidance conflict resolution in humans depends on outcome value tagging in mPFC neurons influencing encoding of such value in MTL to affect subsequent choice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3192
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


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