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Cognitive focus through adaptive neural coding in the primate prefrontal cortex
DUNCAN, J. & Miller, E.K.
In D.T. Stuss & R.T. Knight (Eds.), Principles of frontal lobe function (pp278-191). Oxford, Oxford University Press
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Based on human and monkey data we suggest a new view of prefrontal function, the adaptive coding model. Human imaging data show that much the same frontal regions - the cortex surrounding the inferior frontal sulcus, the frontal operculum, and the dorsal anterior cingulate - are activated by increasing demands in a wide variety of cognitive domains, including perception, response selection, working memory, problem solving and executive control. Monkey single cell data show the adaptability of frontal neurons, with conspicuous tuning by current task demands: Whatever the task a monkey has been trained to carry out, task-relevant responses of many different kinds are found intermingled throughout the lateral frontal cortex. In contrast to views of fixed functional specialization, we propose that, in selected frontal regions, neurons adapt their properties to code information of relevance to current behaviour, pruning away or selecting out all that is currently immaterial or task-irrelevant. In turn, this selectivity gives support to coding of related information in posterior brain systems, in this way acting as a global attentional controller. We discuss applications of this model to a number of problems, including the nature of regional specialization in human and monkey frontal cortex, and in the human, the neural basis for "general intelligenceî.