October 21, 2020

The Orbitofrontal Cortex in Temporal Cognition

One of the most important factors in decision making is estimating the value of available options. Subregions of the prefrontal cortex, including the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), have been deemed essential for this process. Value computations require a complex integration across numerous dimensions, including, reward magnitude, effort, internal state, and time. The importance of the temporal dimension is well-illustrated by temporal discounting tasks, in which subjects select between smaller-sooner versus larger-later rewards. The specific role of OFC in telling time and integrating temporal information into decision making remains unclear. Based on the current literature, in this review we reevaluate current theories of OFC function, accounting for the influence of time. Incorporating temporal information into value estimation and decision making requires distinct, yet interrelated, forms of temporal information including the ability to tell time, represent time, create temporal expectations, and the ability to use this information for optimal decision making in a wide range of tasks, including temporal discounting and wagering. We use the term "temporal cognition" to refer to the integrated use of these different aspects of temporal information. We suggest that the OFC may be a critical site for the integration of reward magnitude and delay, and thus important for temporal cognition.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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